Health & Wellness, Life & Family

How to Choose the Right Nursing Home for Your Loved One

Are you thinking about placing your aging parent in a nursing home? If so, you’re not alone. More than one million Americans reside in a nursing home daily. However, the decision to place a loved one in a nursing facility isn’t an easy one to make.

It can be a challenging and emotional process for most families. But with the help of family members and advisers, you can identify the right option for your parent based on their unique needs and circumstances. Here is everything you need to know about choosing the right nursing home for your parent.


Understanding the Basics

Before you search for the proper nursing or assisted living facility, you’ll first want to understand the different types of facilities there are. Here are the three types of homes with varying levels of care and supervision.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities, also known as ALFs, provide various medical and nonmedical services to independent individuals who still need extra support and assistance with everyday activities.

All ALFs must provide a safe and sanitary living environment for residents. For example, an ALF must provide a safe and clean bed, linens, and furniture; maintain heated and cooled indoor temperatures; supply adequate and nutritious meals, and provide adequate housekeeping services.

However, many ALFs offer a range of additional services to help keep residents as healthy and independent as possible. These services include occupational and speech therapy, community programs, transportation to medical appointments, and access to computers, libraries, and other leisure activities.

ALFs are the most common and appropriate choice for individuals who are healthy enough to live independently but need extra help with daily activities.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are like assisted living facilities on steroids. They provide daily assistance with ADLs like bathing, grooming, dressing, eating, and medical care.

Unlike ALFs, nursing homes must provide around-the-clock medical care for all residents. Nursing homes are appropriate for individuals with severe impairments that prevent them from living independently, such as a severe cognitive or physical disability.

In other words, a nursing home may be their next stop if an ALF isn’t possible or appropriate for a particular individual. Unlike ALFs, nursing homes do not provide nonmedical services such as housekeeping or transportation to medical appointments. Residents live at the facility full time and receive round-the-clock care from nursing staff.

Long-term Care Homes

Long-term care homes, also known as LTC facilities, specialize in treating and caring for individuals with severe cognitive and/or physical challenges. These facilities provide 24-hour medical care and supervision. LTC facilities are appropriate for seniors who require medical care on a full-time basis.

In other words, a long-term care facility is likely the next stop if a resident requires around-the-clock medical care and assistance with ADLs. These facilities are also appropriate for individuals with a severe cognitive impairment that prevents them from living independently.

LTC facilities are very different from ALFs and nursing homes. Unlike ALFs, LTC facilities do not provide nonmedical services such as housekeeping or transportation to medical appointments. In addition, unlike nursing homes, LTC facilities do not provide daily assistance with ADLs. Instead, staff members assist with ADLs as needed.

Choosing the Right Environment for Your Loved One

While all types of facilities offer a level of care and services, specific environments may be more appropriate for your loved one based on their needs and desires. Choosing the right environment for your loved one depends on their personality and energy level. For example, some seniors prefer a quieter, less hectic environment, such as an ALF. On the other hand, other seniors thrive in a more lively, active environment, such as a nursing home.

What to Look for in a Nursing Home

As you search for the right nursing home for your parent, keep an eye out for the following items and characteristics. These are vital signs that the home is clean, safe, and well-managed.

– The facility is clean and well-maintained. You should pay special attention to areas such as the kitchen, bathrooms, and common areas. Dirty kitchens, bathrooms, spiderwebs, and other signs of poor housekeeping are red flags.

– The staff members are warm and friendly. You should be greeted by residents and staff members when you visit the facility. If you don’t meet many people or are met with coldness and indifference, you may want to look elsewhere. The level of friendliness also depends on the time of day. The staff members may be rushing during the day and less attentive.

– The staff members treat residents respectfully. To get an idea of the level of respect at the facility, look for hallways free of yelling and signs of verbal abuse, as well as staff members who are attentive and caring toward residents. If you notice that a few residents are treated with indifference, this isn’t necessarily a bad sign. Some facilities have a “business as usual” approach and aren’t as attentive toward residents.

– The facility has a robust medical program. The medical program at the facility should be well-organized and clean, with various equipment and supplies. You should also see staff members checking residents’ charts and providing medical care.

– The facility is located in a safe and convenient area. You should also pay attention to the quality of the building. Buildings with many broken windows, rotting wood, holes in the walls, or signs of disrepair are not good signs.

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve narrowed down the field to a few nursing homes or ALFs, you’ll want to select the right one for your parent. To do so, you’ll want to make a checklist of essential factors to ensure you choose the best fit for your parent.