Finding the Right Nursing Home for An Aging Parent

Generally, it is inevitable that there will come a time when we must help our parents make the transition from living independently to moving into an assisted living community. This is a significant change for both parents and their adult children. It is a change that comes with mixed emotions but can have a positive impact on your loved one’s health and wellbeing. Everyone wants to ensure the best long-term care possible for their loved one. When it comes to finding the right nursing home, doing your research is key! 

Searching for Nursing Homes

Start Doing Research Online

The quickest way to compile a list of residential care contenders is to conduct a thorough search online. Start by visiting Medicare Nursing Home Compare to view nursing homes that accept Medicare or Medicaid. You can filter by star rating, facility size, and CCRC or hospital settings. Some states have specific online databases of care communities, so it is worth checking if that applies to you. Additionally, you can use ProPublica’s Nursing Home Inspect site to compare residential facilities based on deficiencies cited by regulators and penalties imposed within the previous three years. Once you make a list of possible options within your area, visit their website and social media pages and find online reviews to give you a better understanding of the environment. 

Ask People You Trust

Follow up your online search by asking your parent’s doctor if he or she either recommends or provides care to specific care homes. Friends and neighbors of your loved one may have insight into quality nursing homes nearby. If your parent is in the hopsital, the social worker on-site will be able to help you find a nursing home that meets your loved one’s unique set of needs. Contacting a local senior center is also a good idea, as they often work with many care providers.

Review Financial Details

Medicare payouts are complicated and it’s worth speaking with a professional about your specific circumstances before making a decision. Keep in mind that Medicare Part A provides coverage for short-term stays in skilled nursing facilities (Advantage plans may have different rules). Medicare can pay a portion of the host for up to 100 days but only if the patient is admitted within 30 days of leaving a hospital after being inpatient for at least three consecutive days. Furthermore, the short-term skilled nursing care must be for the same condition they were hospitalized for. A new hospitalization or 60 straight days of skilled care can then kick off another 100 days of partial Medicare coverage. 

No Medicare? Then your parents can pay out of pocket or “spend down” their assets until they qualify for Medicaid. 

It’s important to understand what financial assistance is currently available and how much money your loved one has to put toward their nursing home care when looking for the right long-term solution for them. 

Visit Your Top Picks

No online or word of mouth search can help you narrow down your options as effectively as in-person visits. If you live out of state, ask someone else to attend visits for you. The most important thing is to involve your parent in the decision-making process as much as possible. Here are some things to consider when you tour potential nursing homes: 

  • Is the environment chaotic and noisy or calm and quiet? 
  • Are the residents well groomed (look at their hair, fingernails, clothing, etc.)?
  • What is the staff to resident ratio? What is their turnover rate?
  • Do the staff use care planning software or other health technology that signals a progressive, forward-thinking approach to care?
  • What kind of social, recreational, or religious activities are important to your loved one and how would they be able to participate in those? 
  • What level of transportation does the nursing home provide?
  • What is the quality of the meals provided? Ask to see a menu.
  • What are the policies around visitors? Are there any private spaces to have visits?
  • How does the nursing home make sure residents get preventative care?
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