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How to Find the Right Nursing Home for Your Senior

By Jan Bolder - December 13, 2013

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The choice to cede care for your senior into the hands of another is never an easy choice, as feelings of loss and betrayal are very common. In the midst of all this is you needing to be clear and level-headed as you find the right home that'll allow your senior to thrive.

Visit at the Right Time: Go as soon as you've made the decision. The more time you give yourself to find the right home, the more relaxed you can be about what is going to be a traumatic process. But choosing the right time to visit also plays a factor, as you'll want to get the most realistic look at how the nursing home operates. Head to prospective homes on Saturday evenings, while or after the residents have already eaten and no activities are on tap. You probably won't encounter marketing staff, and will be able to chat with residents, their families, and nursing home staff to get the best picture possible.

Sights, Smells and Sounds: Does the nursing home smell like urine, or does it reek of cleaning solutions? How loud are the TVs and residents in the hallways, rooms and nursing stations? Are the residents talking to each other, or left alone in wheelchairs? How many staff members do you see, and what are their roles? What do the meals and snacks consists of? How are the rooms set up? Which members of the staff are fully-licenses RNs, and how often are they present? Each nursing home will differ, but you're there to see how it fits for your senior, not all seniors.

Paying: How does the nursing home need to be paid each month? Do they accept Medicare/Medicaid? If so, what's the process? What about medications, hospital visits, or even seemingly superfluous matters, like a barber/hair dresser? Do special diets cost extra? Extra laundering? Lost items or injuries? Outings to the community, bringing members of the community in, or holiday events that are outside of the social calendar?

Health: If your senior suffers from acute or chronic illnesses, or is prone to injuries, how will the nursing home manage it? Do they have easy and quick acces to highly-trained medical professionals? How will Medicare/Medicaid cover it, and are there restrictions to it? Do Medicare and Medicaid have time limits on how long a senior can stay in a nursing home after a hospitalization episode? Does the nursing home allot a certain number of beds to Medicare/Medicaid recipients? 

Safety: Your senior will be living in the nursing home full-time, and you'll need to know that safety is the home's top priority. When you visit, check for an appropriate number of (working) smoke detectors and fire extinguishers (and what the latter's expiry dates are), hand rails on the walls, if halls and toilets are wide enough for wheelchairs, how slip/trip/fall hazards have been diminished or reduced, and what the home's emergency or evacuation procedures are. 

It's a big process filled with many questions, but taking the time to do so beforehand will make the after process much easier.