How to Choose a Nursing Home for Your Aging Parent

As America’s population ages, long-term care needs continue to grow. As an adult child with an aging parent, determining which type of long-term care option is best can be challenging. And even if you know that a nursing home is the right fit, determining which nursing home to place them in is still a difficult proposition.

6 Tips to Find the Right Fit

For most adult children with aging parents, there comes a time where long-term care must be discussed. It’s never an easy conversation to have, but it’s an important one. In these discussions, always remember that your parents have the final say (assuming they’re mentally competent to make choices). You can only influence their decision-making.

Photo: AgingInPlace

There are numerous long-term care options for aging parents, but a nursing home is often the best choice. These facilities include nursing care, 24-hour supervision, meals, social activities, and even rehabilitation services. But not all nursing homes are created equal. It’s all about finding the right fit for your parents – something you can do by considering the following:

1. Quality of Care

If this is your first time looking at long-term care options and considering nursing homes for a parent, you probably have a very limited view of the industry. You may not realize that nursing home mistreatment is rampant. Neglect is also a huge concern – often leading to bad sores and other dangerous side effects for residents. And it’s for these reasons that it’s so important to evaluate facilities on quality of care (above all else).

Quality of care can be evaluated through numerous filters. You can visit the nursing home’s website, read ratings and reviews online, and speak with friends who have loved ones in the facility. However, your five senses are your best tools. Any nursing home that you and your parent are considering should be visited in person. This allows you to see, smell, hear, touch, and taste (think food) the conditions.

2. Location

If possible, you should select a nursing home that’s convenient for friends and loved ones to visit. If it’s too far away, visits will be few and far between. It should be in an area that’s familiar, yet accessible.

3. Price

Cost is obviously a concern for most people. There are significant price differences in the industry and rates depend on location, amenities, type of care, and reputation. Typically, you get what you pay for. Sit down with your parent and work through their financial situation to figure out what they can afford. It may be necessary to trim up expenses in other areas.

4. Amenities

What kinds of amenities are available? Consider things like meals, entertainment, social outings, rehabilitation services, on-staff nurses, transportation, house cleaning, etc. You don’t want to pay for things that you don’t use, but some of these conveniences are nice to have.

5. Staff Interactions

Be mindful of staff interactions with one another. This gives you a helpful look into what’s going on behind the scenes.

“If the staff is rude to each other, they’re going to be rude to your parent,” elder care advocate Marion Somers explains. It’s also helpful to note what kind of music is on the radio, or which shows/movies are on the television. “The music should be for the clients who are there, so if you’re hearing hip-hop or hard rock then you know the administrator doesn’t have a clue as how to deal with old people.”

6. Resident Activity

Take note of how residents spend their afternoon hours. Do you see people walking around, playing games, interacting with one another, and conversing with nurses? Or does it seem quiet and lonely?

It’s good to see people out and about. This is a sign that residents aren’t isolating themselves in their rooms and mindlessly watching TV. They feel comfortable enough to get out and mingle.

Make a Confident Decision

The best decision will be one that takes your parent’s needs into account, as well as some of your own preferences. It’s not always possible to completely satisfy both ends of the spectrum, but some semblance of balance can typically be reached. Take the time to evaluate the options and help your parent find the long-term care option that’s best for their physical health, emotional well-being, and financial stability.

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