The circle of life is such that children grow and eventually must care for their parents. As your parents continue to age, you may find that you can no longer provide the hands-on care that they need. One solution is to place them in a nursing home or long-term care facility that will allow them to thrive in the sunset of their lives. But how do you choose the right one?
6 Factors to Consider
No two nursing home facilities are the same. Some are good, others are bad, and an even larger group falls somewhere in the middle. As someone who has never been around nursing homes, let alone participated in the process of choosing one for a parent to live, where do you begin?
Numerous factors come into play – many of which will be specific to your situation and needs – but here are some of the big picture details to stop and consider.
Are you planning on visiting your parents often? Do you have other siblings and relatives who will want to visit? Location should play a big role in nursing home selection. Give it some thought when vetting your options.
- Staffing Ratios
Some facilities are too big for their own good. While they may have lots of amenities, you should question whether they’re properly staffed. When interviewing different facilities, inquire about specific data on staffing ratios to get an idea of how much attention your parent will be receiving.
- Signs of Neglect and Abuse
Believe it or not, nursing home abuse and neglect is common across the country. While you never think it will happen to your parent, you have to be aware of the risks and keep an eye out for signs that something isn’t right.
While every state has its own specific set of laws regulating nursing homes, most require these facilities to provide an adequate quality of care and quality of life. If you suspect that a nursing home isn’t meeting both of these standards, you probably want to proceed in another direction.
- Food and Nutrition
“When people are aging and losing a lot of sensory sensitivity, food is a huge issue,” says Maryglenn Boals, a former nursing home administrator. “The meal might meet the dietary requirements, but is it palatable? Is it visually encouraging, especially to someone who doesn’t have much interest in eating?”
While food might seem like an afterthought, take this aspect seriously. Speak with the nursing home administrators about menus, ingredients, and how mealtimes work. Ask current residents for their opinions on the food. This one small aspect can have a major impact on how your parent feels about the nursing home that’s selected.
- Activities and Social Engagement
One of the benefits of living in a long-term care facility, versus living at home in isolation, is that your parent gets to interact with other people. One way to judge a nursing home is by looking at the types of activities and social engagement opportunities they provide. The more options there are, the more likely that your parent will be stimulated.
- Cost of Care
Cost is obviously an important factor, but don’t let it be the only factor. We’ve purposefully included it last on the list so that you make sure to consider the big picture. Pay for what your parent can afford, but don’t cut corners at the expense of their health or comfort.
Adding It All Up
As a decision maker for your aging parents, you feel a lot of pressure to help them live a comfortable and healthy life. There’s a fine line between doing what’s right for them, and doing what makes them happy. Ideally, you can find a nursing home that’s beneficial for them in both of these areas.