Caregiver Guide: Choosing a Nursing Home

Updated on July 1, 2021

If you’re caring for an aging parent, it’s probably the thing you most dread: having to start thinking about putting Mom or Dad in a nursing home. Not only is moving to a nursing home a huge lifestyle change, but there are also concerns about how to choose a safe and caring environment, how to make sure Mom or Dad is happy in the facility you choose, and how to pay for the care.

When do you need to consider a nursing home?

Watching a loved one get older can be a very difficult and humbling process. No matter how much you wish you could turn back the clock, the reality is that there is very little one can do to stave off the ravages of aging. You’ll know it’s time to consider a nursing home when Mom or Dad deteriorates mentally or physically to the point that you’re starting to worry that it might not be safe for him or her to be living alone. According to lawyer Rooth, some signs to look out for are when a loved one:

  • Neglects basic self-care, such as going to the bathroom, personal hygiene, feeding, or taking required medicines
  • Begins to suffer falls or other injuries on a frequent basis
  • Is frequently agitated or wanders away from home

For many children of aging parents, the preferred option is to have Mom or Dad come to live with the child. In many cases, this is a workable solution, but there may come a time when you need to reevaluate whether you are able or willing to provide the level of care that a loved one needs. Once a loved one has started to require constant or advanced medical care or supervision, you may have to admit that you are not prepared or qualified to be a full-time caregiver, and your loved one needs to be under the care of professionals. You can easily find a professional caregiver with the help of companies like Caregiverlist.

Are there alternatives to nursing homes?

If a nursing home doesn’t seem quite right for your needs, there are other forms of alternative living that may be better suited. Assisted living facilities offer residents individual rooms, meals, and activities, as well as support and assistance, for those who cannot live alone but don’t require constant care or supervision. ALFs do not provide medical care, so residents will still need to go to the doctor or get home healthcare services. Board and care homes are similar to ALFs but in a smaller and more home-like environment. Continuing care retirement communities offer independent living but also include more advanced forms of care, including nursing homes when a resident should require a transition into these types of facilities.

How to Choose the Right Nursing Home for You

Nursing homes vary in the level of care they provide, but they all are residential facilities where residents are routinely visited by a doctor, and the facility is staffed by licensed nursing staff 24 hours a day. Nursing homes range from intermediate care that provides a low level of assistance to residents who don’t need much help, to skilled nursing care for people who can no longer safely take care of themselves, to subacute nursing units that provide care for patients with substantial medical needs. Some nursing homes offer special units for patients with diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Recommendations from a doctor or other medical professional are a good way to narrow down the search for a nursing home. Prospective residents should visit possible nursing homes to get a feel for the facility and ask questions of staff and current residents to determine whether it seems like a good fit.

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