What to look for in a nursing home for a loved one

Aging can be hard on both the body and the mind. People begin to lose their flexibility and strength. They become more susceptible to illnesses. In some cases, they also begin to experience cognitive decline, which could involve issues such as memory loss or frequent bouts of confusion.

If your loved one has physical or mental symptoms that worry you, that could be a warning sign that they will not be able to live on their own for much longer. If you work full time, have children in the house or simply don't have the skills to provide care, your aging loved one will likely need to consider moving into a nursing home facility.

Many older adults are reticent to consider nursing homes or assisted living facilities, but they can be quite beneficial. Taking care to select the right facility could make the transition easier on your loved one.

Visiting a nursing home is critical when making a choice

Even the most run-down and dangerous facilities can invest in a good website that makes their business seem more appealing than it really is. In other words, you don't want to make a selection or sign a lease based solely on the digital presence of a facility. An in-person visit will be the only way to really see what the space is like.

Ideally, you can visit the facility without scheduling your visit ahead of time. That way, you know what you see is representative of the standard of care in the facility. Open houses and similar special events often provide an opportunity for facilities with lackluster staffing or inadequate cleaning and maintenance to present a carefully manicured and inaccurate representation of itself to potential clients.

Talk to the people who actually live there

Talking with staff can help in making a decision, but you should also look at and talk to some of the residents. Are they interacting in social settings, or are they all secluded in their separate rooms? Are there public spaces open and full of people, or is the facility quieter?

Are there signs of improper care or maintenance, such as mold, staining, evidence of insects or rodents, or other red flags? Although any facility can have a bad day, filth and unmaintained spaces are a red flag of a space that routinely doesn't receive adequate care. Unhappy residents are also a warning sign you shouldn't ignore.

Find out what the staff to resident ratio is

One of the most important factors in the level of care residents receive in a nursing home facility will be the number of staff members on duty at any given time. Some nursing homes will deliberately schedule the fewest people on any given shift that they can legally get away with. They do this to keep their costs low, but it also has a direct impact on the quality of care that residents receive.

Even if you do pay close attention to the facility you select, it's possible that a change in policies or management could compromise the standard of care your loved one has grown to expect. Regular visits and careful attention to the facility will help you protect your loved one from a negative experience. You can play a role in helping your loved one resolve any issues that arise.

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