As the number of older Americans has increased exponentially over the past few decades, so has the number of people looking to care for loved ones in a nursing home. In order to keep track of all of the different options out there, and to make sure that you’re getting the best deal on your loved one’s care, it’s helpful to understand some of the factors to keep in mind when choosing a nursing home for your family member. Below, Eli Mirlis, CEO at RegalCare Management Group, lists the top things to consider to find the best nursing home for yourself, or an elderly loved one.
Communicate with Your Loved Ones
Choosing the right nursing home for your loved one can be complicated, but it’s also important to communicate with your loved ones about your decision. It’s important to remember that everyone in a nursing home is dependent on others for their daily well-being, and that you, the loved ones, need to be aware of which type of care your loved one is receiving. You should also know the specific person(s) your loved one is associated with, so that you can interject and correct any inaccuracies in the nursing home’s system.
Location and Size
The location of the nursing home should be one of the first things you consider. Ideally, the nursing home should be located close to your loved one’s home so that he or she can continue to make regular visits there. However, if that’s not possible, a nursing home that’s far from your loved one’s home is also a possibility, explains Eli Mirlis.
It’s also important to keep in mind the size of the facility. A large nursing home can be overwhelming for family members to navigate, particularly if you have a large extended family. A smaller nursing home should be able to comfortably care for your loved one, while still allowing other family members to feel comfortable visiting.
Another thing to keep in mind as you search for the right nursing home for your family member is the variety of services that the facility offers. Ideally, your loved one’s nursing home should offer a combination of in-house and community-based services. Ideally, there should be a balance between fully-staffed nursing homes and smaller, more specialized units where your loved one can receive the type of intensive care that he or she needs.
A good rule of thumb is to look for a nursing home that offers a combination of in-house and community-based services. The community-based services should be easily accessible, such as community-based medical services, a community-based pharmacy, or a community-based chapel. The in-house services should be primarily manned by nursing home staff, with a small number of medical or legal personnel hired on an as-needed basis.
As you consider which nursing home to choose for your loved one, you should also keep in mind the staffing levels at that facility. Ideally, your loved one should be able to choose the nursing home that best meets his or her needs, and not be stuck with an overly-staffed or understaffed facility because there aren’t enough caregivers to meet the demands of an increasingly elderly population.
Unfortunately, as nursing home administrator Eli Mirlis explains, staffing levels aren’t always realistic indicators of how busy a nursing home is. In fact, the staff-to-patient ratio is one of the most over-rated factors when it comes to nursing home care. In order to avoid overstaffing, some nursing homes have started to offer reduced staffing levels as an option for families who want to choose a less-staffed location. However, this should be done carefully because reducing a nursing home’s staff can have unfortunate side effects.
Choices and Independence
Another important thing to keep in mind as you choose a nursing home for your loved one is the independence of that facility. Ideally, your loved one should be able to choose the facility where he or she wants to stay. Choosing a nursing home that places a great deal of emphasis on independence can be nerve-wracking, but it’s also the most important decision you can make for your loved one. If you select a facility that’s overly dependent on others and doesn’t allow your loved one to make choices for herself, you may end up with a nursing home situation that’s less than ideal.
Recreational or Social Activities
Last but not least, as you choose a nursing home for your loved one, Eli Mirlis recommends keeping in mind the amount of recreational or social activities that are available at the facility. Ideally, your loved one’s nursing home should offer a mix of in-house and community-based activities, so that he or she has plenty of options for spending time. It’s also important to remember that a healthy mix of both moderate exercise and engaging physical activities is essential to keeping your loved one’s mind and body healthy. And, as we grow older, exercise is becoming even more important for seniors, as it can help to protect against developing illness and diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Choosing the right nursing home for your loved one can be difficult, but it’s important to consider all of the factors when making the decision. The location, size, services, and independence of a nursing home are just a few things to keep in mind when choosing a facility.