8 tips in choosing the right nursing home for your loved one

by Angie on

Nothing is more fulfilling than taking care of your own parents when they are ill. It is a time for bonding and also self discovery of your own strengths. However, your strengths will reach its limit.Your parents’ health could deteriorate in which you will need professional help to care for them 24/7. Deep down, you know that a nursing home is the answer but you hesitate to look for one.

“How can I do this to them? How can I send them to a home? I would break their heart. What would people think? That I am an ungrateful child?”

Let me tell you something from my own experience…

1. Stop feeling guilty

You are still caring for them. There’s no abandonment here. Your parents will be surrounded by professionals who would be able to manage them better and keep them comfortable. They will have friends around of their own age to spend their days by doing activities together. Yes, they would also have the chance to brag about YOU to their new friends, behind your back. All in all, a nursing home is a place for them to LIVE their life and not a place to die.

So now, it is your responsibility to choose the BEST nursing home that would suit your parents as their new place to live.You can also look at it this way, when you were young, your parents took the time to look for the best schools and neighborhood for you to grow up in and they made the necessary adjustments and sacrifices to give you the best. Likewise, now it is you turn to…

2. Identify with what your parent needs

Your parent needs will fall mainly on the disease that they suffering from. A person with Alzheimer’s disease will have a totally different need to a person who is immobile from the waist down but with a very sharp mind. Now, how do you recognize what their needs are? Simplest way, get a piece a paper and start writing down all of their needs, no matter how small and mundane it maybe. It may be unimportant for you, but it is important for the future caretakers to know this and important to keep in mind when you finalize their new home. Identify one key criteria that is important to both your parent and you in choosing a home. If possible, discuss it over with them. After all, this home is for their comfort.

papaFor example,in my case, my dad, seen on the left, is paralyzed from the waist down after suffering a stroke, he would need daily exercises for his legs in order for his muscles to not waste away. That was the main criteria for both of us in choosing the right nursing home for him. I spend time discussing with him on what was his own needs and requirements were. For dad, its simple, good food. That alone keeps the man happy. So, whichever place I chose for him, had to meet his basic requirement.

3. Scouting for a nursing home

After penning down their needs, the next step is to look for a nursing home. You can either get a list of nursing homes from the hospital that you frequent with, they generally can recommend some places for you or start your search via the Internet. There are many homes that advertise on social media such as Facebook. Look for a place near to your locality so that it is convenient for you and your family. Identify them and make appointments to visit their facility.

4. Tour the home

Have a “tour” of the home. The best time to really check a home out is normally during meal times. You can observe many things during this time :

  • interactions between the caretakers and the residents.
  • the type of meals served and its portion size.
  • how the food look and taste
  • the timing of the meals
  • hygiene of the home and its residents
  • interactions between staff/caretakers
  • workload of the caretakers

The reality of the home is more evident during meal times than whats advertised on a website, a brochure and a sales pitch. See it for yourself and make your own judgement. These observations may appear small but it carries a lot of weight when it comes to providing comfort to your loved ones. If you are unhappy about anything that you observe, that’s good enough for you to strike off that nursing home from the list.

5. Talk to the residents there

Spend some time in the home and talk to the seniors living there. Ask them about their day, about what they love to do during the days in the home. They will speak to you passionately about the activities that they love to do there. Activities should be varied in nature – be it artwork, board games, knitting, crossword img-20151010-wa0001puzzles, etc.

If the only activity is watching TV, then its best to strike the home out of your list.

As you speak to the residents, listen and notice their reactions to certain topics. If they seem unhappy about something, try to find out more about it. It can uncover more truths about the home than you can imagine. You will be able to learn if they are respected as individuals in the home. Respect here means that they can make their own choices in what they want to do – be it having their rooms decorated according to their liking or having their own schedule nap time.

Look out also for bruising or signs of abuse in the home. Abuse in the elderly is more common than you think. Overly stressed caretakers tend to take it out on residents who are difficult to manage. That’s a topic on its own and something that I will post later. Stay tuned for that. If the bruising is caused by a fall, then find out from the resident that you are speaking to and to the caretakers on how they would handle falls and what are the preventive measures done in the home to prevent future incidents.

6. Talk to the caretaker and the manager in charge.  

Spend time talking to the caretakers and the manager in charge to understand how the home is managed. Find out answers to pertinent questions such as:activity-board

  • number of elderly assigned to a caretaker
  • turnover rate of the staff
  • availability of a medical doctor on site or within the locality
  • how often routine checks of blood pressure and sugar are done
  • availability of a physiotherapist
  • their plan of action should an emergency occur
  • if they offer specialized care, this is relevant if your parent is suffering dementia or Parkinson’s disease.

7. Check out the reviews

Get reviews of the nursing home either from friends and family who have experience with the home or get the reviews online via social media.
Use these reviews as a starting point in making your choice of the right nursing home for your parent. Please do not use it as your final decision making tool. Your final decision falls largely from the tour that you did earlier and the conversation that you had with the people there.

8. Payment options

This is the most important discussion that you will make with the manager of the establishment and the final step in choosing the right home for your parent.

It is either you are funding their stay or your parent may have insurances or savings that can be used to cover the cost of ongoing long term care.

Make sure of what you are going to pay for. The fee should include lodging, food, general care/specialized care, any additional therapy and the usage of diapers.

Finding the right home for your parent is a journey on its own. It can be overwhelming at times. I hope that these tips will help you in making your choice for the right home for your loved one. If you have any other tips, that I may not have mentioned, please do share it in the comment box below.

Written by: Angie

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