Choosing a Nursing Home: Do it Right

Many adults find themselves in the difficult situation of having to place an elderly parent into a nursing home. If their care requires more time and effort than you can give, and they can’t live safely on their own, it is a viable option to consider. Even though making the choice will be an emotional experience, it can often turn out to be for the best. Consider these factors as you transition your parent into this new living situation.

1. Start with Medicare’s nursing home ratings website. This is a site administered by the government that has a great deal of information about these facilities, including quality of care and level of service. States vary in terms of their nursing home licensing requirements, so be sure to look into what your state mandates. As an example, New Jersey’s licensing requirements may be found at the state’s official website.

2. Take a look at the lifestyle of the residents at each facility. Does it seem to be a welcoming, inviting community? Is there a social director on site? Are outside activities offered, perhaps such field trips as bus rides to local events? The environment should be conducive to your loved one having the opportunity to meet neighbors and make new friends.

3. Evaluate the kind of services your parent may need. Does it include assistance with medications, bathing, and eating? Your loved one may still be quite active, and if this is the case, ask if the other residents are at the same level of mobility. See if there is a social worker on site, and ask about the system the facility has for checking on residents in case of an emergency.

4. Proximity to family members is always beneficial. Even though most facilities are reputable and take good care of all residents, it is still suggested that family members have a presence there. This will remind the staff that someone else is watching to ensure that their loved ones are being treated well.

5. While you would ideally like to give your loved one every possible amenity, it is likely that affordability will be a factor in making your decision. You need to discuss how long your parent will need to stay at the facility, whether short-term for physical therapy, or longer-term. Many people assume higher-priced facilities are better in terms of quality and recreational options, but it is possible to find an affordable nursing home, if you do some research.

Although this may be a challenging time for you and your elderly parent, keep in mind that the main goal is that they find a place in which they will be comfortable, safe, and happy. For such an important decision, preparation and research are essential to finding a place your loved one can call home.  

Ruth Williams has written dozens of articles on education-related topics which include online colleges, financial aid, and online degree programs.

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