Nursing Home Care for Elderly Parents - How to Assess a Nursing Home

Nursing Home Care for Elderly Parents - How to Assess a Nursing Home

Making the decision to place elderly parents in a long-term care facility is not easy, but one that often needs to be made for the safety and comfort of our loved ones.

How will we know if our elderly parents will be well taken care of? How do we know that a particular nursing home care facility or elder care home will provide our parent the comfort and security that we want them to feel? Learn how to assess a nursing care home in order to choose wisely.

Nursing Home Care Basics

These days, nursing homes are called long-term care facilities. Such facilities are able to provide specialized skills and elder care for residents, offering 24-hour care and medical treatment as well as special care units to help meet the needs of elderly parents suffering from Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.

Nursing Home Elderly Housing

Long-term care facilities offer round-the-clock CNAs (certified nurses aides) to help your elderly parent dress and take care of personal hygiene needs. CNAs help your parent get up in the morning, take them to the dining area, where, if necessary, they can help your parent eat. CNAs help him or her to bathe. They also take your elderly parents to activities, in-house religious services, and physical therapy treatments. Nursing home care facilities also offer round-the-clock LPNs and RNs to administer medications and take care of any medical or health care issues that arise.

Long-term care facilities are equipped with daily maintenance and janitorial services, ensuring that resident rooms and bathrooms are cleaned on a daily basis. Kitchen staff and dining rooms serve three meals a day, and in-house laundry services take care of resident's private wardrobes, as well as bedding.Long-term care facilities also offer activities departments and religious services for residents.

How Can Medicare or Medicaid Help?

Researching a Nursing Home Care or Long-Term Care Facility

Nursing Home Care

When selecting a long-term care facility or nursing home care for your elderly parents, some basic steps can help you choose wisely. These include but are not limited to:

  • Location - can you visit easily?
  • Research - visit various facilities during different times of the day to observe residents and staff
  • Licensing - is the facility licensed and regulated by state agencies?
  • Cleanliness - is the facility clean and neat?
  • Residents - do the residents appear clean and well dressed?
  • Staff - do staff members appear to be caring and focused on providing responsible services?
  • Activities - are residents taking part in activities or left sitting in their rooms?
  • Meals - do meals look nutritionally balanced and adequately portioned?
  • Services - does the facility offer religious, physical therapy, and medical services?
  • Special needs - does facility offer a special unit for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia?
  • Cost - how does this facility want to be paid?
  • Security - what type of security does the facility offer? What about security for Alzheimer's patients?

A care facility should be federally regulated. The government provides specific and detailed information about nursing homes, including inspection. Such information can be accessed by clicking these links or

Your Nursing Home Checklist

Keep track of every facility you visit. Ideally, have a sheet of paper ready to fill out for each facility that includes the questions listed above, and several additional areas for information that include:

Nursing Home Care
  • Is the facility Medicare certified?
  • Is the facility Medicaid certified?
  • Is there a waiting period for admission?
  • Are they accepting new patients?
  • Does the facility offer abuse prevention training to staff?
  • Are the facility and the administrator licensed?
  • Are background checks performed on all staff members?

Questions regarding Quality of Life in Quality of Care

Once basic physical needs have been met and addressed, it's time for an individual to ask some questions regarding quality of life and care issues of elderly parents. Visiting nursing home care facilities at different times of the day may help an individual determine such issues through careful observation.

Questions regarding quality of life can include:

  • Are residents allowed to make choices about their daily routines?
  • Are relationships between staff and residents comfortable and friendly?
  • Is the facility comfortable? Warm enough or cool enough?
  • Are residents allowed to keep personal items or pieces of furniture in their rooms?
  • Is there an outdoor area where residents can sit in nice weather?
  • Are activities provided that keep elders engaged in social interaction?
Nursing Home Elderly Housing

Questions regarding quality of care can include:

  • Are residents allowed to see their own personal physicians?
  • Are residents dressed appropriately, groomed, and clean?
  • How quickly do staff members respond to call lights?
  • Is there enough staff for evening, weekend, and holidays to provide adequate care for each resident?
  • Are regular care plan meetings scheduled for residents, family members, and staff?
  • Have any deficiencies reported by state inspectors been corrected?

Other Helpful Tips

When visiting nursing home care facilities, ask about the elder care patient to staff ratio. Watch interactions between staff members and elder care residents as well as interactions between staff members and management.

Visit during meal times to see if residents are allowed enough time to eat and socialize with one another. Make sure that the nursing home care facility provides a safe environment, and that rooms and hallways are kept clear of clutter and are well lit. Ask about emergency fire drills, or provisions for natural disasters.

Choosing a nursing home care or long-term care facility for your elderly parent can be made easier and a little less stressful by asking the right questions. Don't be afraid to ask. After all, this facility is going to be your parent's new home.

Talking with Mom and Dad

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