How to Find the Best Nursing Home for Your Loved One
Posted on August 18, 2016
in Elder Care Planning
For the past few months, my grandmother
has been in and out of nursing homes. This has given me the opportunity to see different
kinds of facilities. My grandmother suffers from dementia and Parkinson’s
disease. The experience of finding the right home for her was quite difficult. Now
that I am more familiar with this process, I want to share some recommendations
on what to look for in order to ensure the best quality of care.
As you embark on this journey of visiting nursing
homes, remember to keep in mind what matters to you the most. Is it the size of
the rooms? Or is it the type of therapy your loved one will receive?
To start our search, we made appointments
at two different nursing facilities. The first nursing home had a grand
fountain in the lobby, almost resembling a five-star hotel entrance. However,
as the tour began, the rooms did not serve up to our expectations.
We ended up choosing the other nursing
home that is 20 miles from my house. It is a nice facility, but the location
makes it difficult to visit my grandmother as often as I would like. At dinner
time there is heavy traffic, leaving no time to get my homework done if I go to
If I could go through the process of
choosing a nursing home again, I would take the location into account. I’d tour
more homes in order to find my grandmother the best care and facility possible.
As you start your own search, this is what
- Set up the tour. You will
need to set up a tour of the nursing home by calling the facility and asking
to speak with someone in admissions. As you drive to the facility, think
about its location. A shorter distance will allow for more frequent visits
and will reduce your levels of stress due to traffic.
- Move past first impressions. Nursing
homes try to make a good first impression when you walk through the front
door. The entrance and lobby are typically the most aesthetically pleasing
parts of a home. I recommend looking beyond the lobby to see what life is
really like in the home.
- Meet your guide. Your tour
guide will meet and greet you in the lobby. Some tours have a pre-planned route,
while others may not, creating a tour based on your recommendations. Do
not hesitate to ask questions before, during, and after the tour.
One of my grandmother’s top priorities was
the nursing home’s cleanliness and noise levels. My grandmother loves to sleep,
so my family wanted to make sure her room was comfortable and quiet.
On your tour, you will pass through the
halls. Your tour guide may show you a particular room, but remember to peak
into random rooms since not all the rooms are the same. Your guide may only
show a staged room, which can seem more impressive than most of the rooms truly
Rooms range in size from one to four
residents. The three- to four-person rooms can become crowded, so make sure to
request to see them. Take a look around. Notice the size of the closet, whether
the TVs are in good condition, and if there is a personal bathroom.
Since your loved one is away from home and
family, the feeling of loneliness may kick in. Choose a facility with group
Your tour guide will take you to the
recreation room where activities for the residents are held on a daily basis. Make
sure to look at the activities calendar, which should be posted in the lobby or
hallways. Types of activities range
from singing to morning stretches to manicures.
A good nursing home will encourage all
residents to participate by stopping by each room to personally invite them to
events. Some recreation workers may play games with residents in their rooms if
they are unable to attend.
The dining room is an important stop on
your tour. Although the facility may have 80 residents, the dining room may
only seat 40 to 50. Do not be alarmed. Other residents may eat in their rooms
depending on whether they need assistance.
My grandmother needs assistance when
eating, so we usually stop by around mealtimes to help. If your loved one needs
assistance, you should make sure that there are enough nurses available.
Residents who cannot feed themselves may eat in smaller lounges where a nurse
can help those in need.
Look for a board in the front lobby where
menus for the month are posted. Check with the staff if they can make special
accommodations by serving ethnic items or if they allow food to be brought in.
Therapy is a crucial component of aging
gracefully. Many facilities have a separate physical therapy room equipped with
weights and exercise machines. I also came across the idea of “reminiscence
therapy” as I talked to various nurses in these homes.
The idea of “reminiscence therapy”, often
used for Alzheimer’s patients, has taken the medical field by storm. According
to the American Psychological Association, reminiscence therapy is “the use of
life histories – written, oral, or both – to improve psychological well-being.”
Since Alzheimer patients can be prone to memory loss and confusion, sensory
cues that involve sight, sound, and touch can be utilized to help revive lost memories.
An elder-care facility in Pennsylvania has
recently implemented this type of therapy. Patients at this nursing home can relax
in a vintage living room with a wood-paneled radio or sit in a kitchen that is
furnished with a cast-iron stove and wringer washing machine. There is also a
hallway that allows patients to take a trip down memory lane – the walls are
covered with images of travel, marriage, parenthood, and cars. Since then, other
homes have tapped into this reminiscence therapy.
A thorough treatment based on your loved
one’s needs is highly recommended. Since my grandmother struggles with
dementia, we are looking into this type of therapy.
When we first started looking at nursing
homes for my grandmother, my family and I had no idea what to look for or expect.
I wish someone had told us the “do’s” and “don’ts” to help support our
Despite the lack of research, we found a
nice facility with caring staff members. My grandmother is being well taken
care of. I hope my experience and tips help you find the right home for your