Finding the Best Nursing Home

Finding the Best Nursing Home

Whether you are searching for yourself or you are a family member helping out, finding the best nursing home near you can be a difficult process. For all involved it’s a new emotional and financial challenge. But the more prepared you are the better decision you’ll make.

What is a Nursing Home?

Nursing homes provide their residents with 24-hour safety monitoring, daily living assistance, and advanced on-site medical care. They also sponsor social activities such as art classes, cooking classes, birthday parties and movie nights. A nursing home is place for a person who can’t be cared for at home but don’t need a hospital. Nursing homes typically have a nursing staff on site 24 hours a day. Some are set up like hospitals with physical, speech and occupational therapy. Some have special units for Alzheimer and dementia patients. Nursing homes are not only for the elderly; they are for anyone who needs 24-hour care. Up until recently, nursing homes were rigid and institutionalized. There were rules and a schedule for everything (waking, sleeping, eating, bathing, etc.). Now the culture is changing to one of resident-centered care. They want their residents to feel like they’re at home. Many nursing homes are households—small groups of residents living under the same roof with the same staff sharing meals and activities. Some homes are on campuses with multiple households. Resident dogs and cats can often be found in the homes. And some homes let residents bring in their own pets.

What to Expect

Traditional nursing homes are distinct from assisted living centers, which are meant for people with more independence. Nursing home residents typically are recovering from illness or injury, or need help managing chronic health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or dementia. Many of the homes are equipped with oxygen tanks, dialysis machines and other medical equipment that isn’t normally found at assisted living centers.

Examples of standard nursing home benefits are:

  • Private and semi-private rooms
  • Three cooked meals daily
  • Help with daily living activities such as bathing and dressing
  • Medication management
  • Various therapies (memory therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy)
  • Laundry and housekeeping services
  • A social activity calendar

Despite their common points, nursing homes show lots of variation. Also, some have adopted qualities of assisted living centers. This guide can help you understand the possibilities and make the best move.

Initial Searching

Before you do a lot of leg work, ask around.

  • Ask your doctor, family, friends, neighbors and clergy what experiences they have with nursing homes.
  • Ask a hospital’s discharge planner or social worker for recommendations, especially if you’re in the hospital or were recently.
  • Contact a social service agency and talk to case manager about nursing home choices.
  • Contact your local Agency on Aging for recommendations.
  • Ask the question, “Are there nursing homes near me?

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