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How to Find the Right Nursing Home

Dave Bernard

Many baby boomers will need to cope with aging parents who are no longer able to live safely on their own. Despite the best efforts of all involved, mom and dad may reach a point when they need assistance to meet their daily needs. In some cases the attention and care required may be beyond what the family is capable of providing, so having your folks move in is not an option.

If you decide that a nursing home is the best solution, it is important to carefully research the options and ask the right questions. You want to find a place mom and dad will enjoy that is also safe and provides the care they need. But this is far from an easy task. Here are some guidelines to help evaluate and identify the best nursing home for your family:

1. Ask the right questions.

--Is the home licensed?

--Do all staff members undergo background checks?

--Do they screen for a history of abuse?

--How much time each day do staff members spend with residents?

--How are complaints handled?

--Ask to see an activity schedule or calendar.

--How are emergencies handled?

--What is the staff turnover? Why do employees leave?

2. Visit the home numerous times. Drop by at different times of the day. See what the morning routine, meal times, activity time, and bedtime are like. Are residents eating together or alone in their rooms? Take note of the overall attitude and demeanor of the residents and the staff. Check out the facilities for cleanliness and safety. How would you feel if this was where you were to live and spend your time each day?

3. Check out the ratings. The Consumer Reports nursing home quality monitor offers state-by-state findings about the quality of care. U.S. News honored the best nursing homes in 2012. And the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services keeps records of violations by nursing homes and the citations that result from failure to comply with mandatory safety rules.

4. Check in frequently. No one wants to feel abandoned or put out to pasture. Even in the best of surroundings, a visit from family members is critical. Think of these visits as no different than regular visits to their house before the nursing home.

Dave Bernard is not yet retired but has begun his due diligence to plan for a satisfying retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only the Beginning.

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