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How to choose a nursing home for an aging parent

As your parents age, there may come a point when you realize they need long-term care. It's never easy to come to this realization, but it's important to take the appropriate action if the time comes.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming that one nursing home is as good as the next. Making a rash decision could lead to a variety of mistakes, such as choosing a facility that doesn't have the best reputation for patient care.

In addition to asking around for suggestions, here are some other steps you can take to choose the best nursing home for your loved one:

  • Talk to your parent about what's most important to them: For example, they may be most interested in a nursing home that's close to your home. This gives you the opportunity to visit as often as possible. Others may be most interested in a nursing home that provides a variety of activities for residents.
  • Ask questions: Once you have a short list of nursing homes for your consideration, contact each one via phone. By asking the same questions, you'll have more information to compare.
  • Visit: You can gather basic information over the phone, but you should personally visit each nursing home you're considering. What does it look like inside and out? What does it smell like? What are the residents doing? How does the food look?
  • Talk to the workers: Don't be shy about asking questions and striking up conversations with the workers. For instance, ask about the staff to patient ratio. The more people you talk to, the better you'll understand what the facility has to offer.
  • Read the contract: Before you make a final decision, read the contract associated with the nursing homes on your short list. This is where you'll find information on the cost, what's included, what's not included and other key details.

There's a lot to think about when choosing a nursing home for an aging parent. While you're helping to make this decision, also turn your attention to matters regarding estate planning, Medicare, guardianship and conservatorship.

Visit our website and read our blog for additional advice on how to best care for an aging parent.

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