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How can I choose a nursing home for a loved one?

If you have an elderly loved one in your care, there may come a time when placement in a nursing home is the best option for everyone. While this decision is extremely difficult, it’s important that you choose a skilled and caring facility capable of addressing your family member’s specific needs and medical issues. The National Institute on Aging offers the following advice on how you can make the best possible decision. 

The first step may be to confer with your loved one’s primary care physician. A doctor will likely have a list of nursing homes in the local area and will be able to provide insight into which ones are best suited to your relative’s needs. You can also seek out referrals from other people in your life. Ask friends and family with elderly relatives for their recommendations, as you’re more likely to get an honest perspective from people close to you. 

Once you have a few options in mind, consider what’s important to your loved one in terms of care. People with terminal illnesses have more extensive medical needs, which means they’d be best served by a home that offers hospice or palliative care. If your family member experiences cognitive issues due to dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s best to choose a home that has experience with these conditions. You might also consider things like menu planning, activities, and therapeutic options. Some residents do well with independent living with minimal personal care assistance, while others will require full-time monitoring by staff. 

Finally, schedule a visit to the home so you can meet with the staff. Pay attention to the atmosphere of the facility while visiting. Does staff interact positively with residents? Is the facility clean and orderly? Do residents seem generally content and happy? If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask. The more information you receive, the easier it will be to make the decision.