Navigating the Maze – Finding the Best Nursing Home for Your Aging Parents

Many elders require nursing home care due to illness, injury, or a decline in their ability to perform basic daily activities. Choosing the right place can be overwhelming, and families often make rushed decisions that they regret later.

It’s essential to take your time to find a care home that meets your loved one’s needs and preferences. Start by identifying your options with the help of digital resources that provide state-by-state evaluations.

Look at the Ratings

Experts say it’s a good idea to search for a nursing home, Jacksonville, FL, online. You can use government sites on Aging.

These websites use information from various sources, including state inspection reports, staffing data, and quality measures, to rate nursing homes. They also allow families to see other people’s experiences with specific facilities, though experts warn against relying solely on ratings. Ratings are often based on self-reported data and can be misleading, as several homes have been found to manipulate their scores to earn higher ratings.

Ask for Referrals

Ask friends and family for recommendations of nursing homes they have used and local professionals like physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and attorneys. You can also approach local area agencies on Aging and other community organizations that work with seniors to find a referral source.

Be wary of so-called “free” nursing home referral services. Many of these advisors are little more than patient brokers who must be professionally equipped to handle a population with specialized needs. Instead, look for a nursing home that incentivizes prospective residents for their referrals, such as credit against community fees. You can then make the best decision for your loved one based on what they offer rather than what they charge. Incentives can help you weed out the best facilities from less desirable ones.

Make a List

Experts say the key to choosing the right nursing home for your loved one is to do as much research as possible. You should dive into government evaluations and inspection reports before making a decision, and you should also ask family, friends, and professional contacts in the healthcare field for recommendations.

Once you’ve gotten referrals, visiting each place you’re considering is essential. Take a tour and ask the staff questions. Bring a checklist with you that includes food, activities, and costs. This way, you can compare your notes after each visit. Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website is a great tool that lets you search and compare nursing homes based on health inspection ratings and other quality measures. It’s also a good idea to check out your local Area Agency on Aging’s Eldercare Locator service.

Take a Tour

As you tour a facility, pay attention to the staff. A good nursing home director is proud of the home and eager to present it positively but is bold and looks beyond the surface.

If the tour is during mealtime, watch how residents interact. While it is a resident’s right to eat in their rooms, the home should encourage them to come out and dine together at small lounges or even in the dining room.

Ask your tour guide if residents can bring personal furnishings into their rooms. You may also want to ask how many activities a day the home offers and whether there are any opportunities for residents to go outdoors in safe, comfortable areas.

Look at Costs

The costs of nursing homes can be significant. It’s important to consider where the money will come from to pay for this care. One option is to buy long-term care insurance, a costly product often only affordable for some seniors. Another option is to use a retirement or investment account that allows you to save on a tax-deferred basis and withdraw the funds to cover qualified medical expenses, including the cost of nursing home care. You may also want to talk with a financial advisor.