Finding the right long-term care option is an important decision that requires time and thought. Seeking out valuable information is key. If you’ve decided that a nursing home is the best option for your loved one, the next step is finding the right one.

Here are some things to consider when searching for a long-term care solution.

What Services Does a Nursing Home Provide?

If your loved one has one or more chronic conditions that need daily attention and maintenance, a nursing home is probably the best option.

Nursing homes provide thorough care and 24-hour assistance with daily tasks and medication administration. Staff members include skilled nurses that know how to manage different medical conditions and situations. Many nursing homes even offer physical, occupational, and speech therapy to help residents with a wide variety of health and mobility issues.

So, how do you find the right nursing home?

Resources to Help with the Decision

Choosing long-term care can be difficult, so it’s a good idea to get outside help. Here are some agencies that can help when deciding to transition to long-term care:

  • The Administration for Community Living offers services that can help you find long-term care services in your community. These include aging and disability resource centers that help families identify needs, available support, and develop a long-term plan.
  • The U.S. Administration on Aging operates Eldercare Locator. This allows you to search by area code for a variety of services including adult day programs, housing options, long-term care, and nursing homes.
  • At the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center people work to advocate for the rights and care of people in a variety of adult care facilities. They visit nursing homes to speak with residents, make sure they’re not being mistreated, and help people compare facilities’ strengths and weaknesses. They can also help explain complaints about individual facilities and how they were handled.

Your state Medicaid office can also help you if your loved one qualifies for government-subsidized care.

Questions to Ask

There are endless questions to ask when choosing the right nursing home. Here are just a few to help get you started:

  • What services will my loved one need? How much will this care cost? How will these be paid for?
  • How far away is a facility from where medical care will be provided? Does the nursing home have the experts needed for proper care?
  • What is the caregiver-to-patient ratio? What training does the staff have? Will the facility contact me if my loved one is taken off campus for medical care?
  • What kind of security is in place to keep unwanted people out and to keep residents from wandering away from the facility?
  • How often will the staff attend to my loved one’s hygiene, such as showers, baths, and shaving?
  • What food options will my loved one have? Will they participate in meal planning and can they eat in their room? When are meals served?

Ask about visiting times. If you’re not allowed to check on your loved one at reasonable times or staff keeps you away from inspecting the grounds, these could be signs of a problem.

Ask to see their state surveys. All nursing home facilities are licensed by their respective states, and these monitoring reports are open to the public. They should be available on site for inspection. The website Nursing Home Compare may be helpful for making a decision as well.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers a checklist you can take with you when viewing nursing homes.

Specialty Care for People with Alzheimer’s Disease

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be a challenging task. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there’s no right time for a loved one to go into long-term care. It all depends on individual circumstances, including:

  • the health of the person with Alzheimer’s disease
  • the health of the caregiver
  • the personal safety of the person with Alzheimer’s disease
  • the level of care and attention the person with Alzheimer’s disease needs

The website Alzheimers.gov helps caregivers develop a plan to care for their loved one, as well as links to resources in their area.

The Takeaway

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a nursing home for your loved one. Talk to their current caregivers to get a sense of what kind of attention they may need.

Also, be sure to think of a nursing home as a new home. While the type of skilled care the facility can provide is a major factor to consider, it should also provide your loved one with a sense of comfort and safety.

Are you still unsure if a nursing home is the right option? If your loved one’s health is good for their age, you may want to consider an assisted living facility. These are cheaper than nursing homes because they don’t have on-site medical care. However, they still have staff available to respond to emergencies or transport residents to scheduled care.

There’s also the option of a home-based service. This allows your loved one to remain at home, but it can offer a variety of other services like cleaning and medication monitoring.