What to Look For (and Look Out For) When Choosing a Nursing Home

We I Choosing the right nursing home is obviously a very important decision. You have to look at location, available services, and price, of course; but what other factors should you consider? AARP provides a wealth of information on this topic. Here are some of the organization’s tips on how to inspect a prospective nursing home.

Study the Grounds

Are there outdoor sitting areas available and do the residents use them? Are dumpsters well-hidden and relatively clean? Are the surroundings quiet or do you hear a lot of noise coming from nearby traffic or some other source? Does it seem like you or your loved one would find the area relaxing and a nice place to sit?

Talk to Residents

Ask residents if they like living at the facility. You might want to ask about the food, what a typical day is like, if there are activities and outings for residents, and whether the facility sponsors events for family members. Remember: looks aren’t everything. The facility might be beautiful, but make sure the residents seem well cared for and content.

Talk to the Staff

Ask people working at the facility about their jobs, their hours, and how they are supervised. Try to find out if members of the staff know the residents’ names and how long they have been working at the facility. Watch to see how the staff interacts with the residents. Are they patient, respectful, and accommodating? High turnover, among staff or residents, is always a bad sign. You don’t want to be overly aggressive, but it’s important to get a feel for the facility’s culture and what the staff is like.

Try the Food

Nursing homes are not in the business of providing five-star dining, but the food should be appetizing, healthy and fresh. You can see for yourself by asking to have lunch or dinner with the residents.

Use all of Your Senses

In addition to tasting the food, make use of your ears and nose. Pause every so often during your visit and just listen. Are the sounds you hear reassuring (such as music, laughter, and conversation) or a cause for concern (excessive silence, perhaps)? What does the facility smell like? Is it well ventilated, fresh, and clean, or musty and stale?

Make Sure the Environment is Safe

Begin with the basics: Are there nonskid floors and handrails? Are walkways clear or are there wheelchairs and other obstructions that could lead to residents tripping and injuring themselves? Next, ask the staff about how the nursing home would respond to a natural disaster. Is there an adequate supply of food and water, and access to power, to cope with an extended emergency?

Make a Second Visit During Off-Hours

A guided, scheduled visit on a weekday will probably show the facility at its very best. But what happens on weekends and off-hours?  Make sure the same sense of calm prevails, and staffing levels are adequate, when the facility is not on high alert.

Planning for Nursing Home Care

Finding the nursing home that’s best for you is essential, but it’s equally important to know that pursuing nursing home care doesn’t cost you your life savings. Estate planning attorney Clifford M. Cohen has over 35 years of experience and regularly helps individuals of the Maryland and DC area plan for nursing home care. Medicaid is the most used healthcare benefit for nursing home care and our team is here to help make sure you remain eligible.

We can thoroughly assess your financial information, inform you of your options, and take the necessary action to help ensure that you move into your desired nursing home free of financial stress. Contact us today at 202-895-2799 for a free case evaluation and learn more about what we can do to help ensure that you can afford the nursing home care of your choice.