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How to Find a Safe Nursing Home for Your Elderly Loved One

by Jaime A. Heidel
See all TBYIL articles by Jaime A. Heidel

(The Best Years in Life) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are currently 1.5 million Americans living in nursing homes. As more and more baby boomers come to retirement age, these numbers are expected to rise exponentially.

If you're concerned about elder abuse and neglect, you're not being paranoid. As terrible as it is to think about, the senior population does get subjected to quite a bit of abuse in nursing homes.

Here are five ways to find a safe nursing home for your elderly loved one:

1. Don't Rush Into Anything

Sometimes, the decision to place a senior in an assisted living facility comes out of sheer desperation. You, as the primary caregiver, have done all you can and more. You're understandably exhausted, emotional, irritable, and stressed, and the only thing you can focus on right now is getting some much-needed relief.

If you feel you can no longer reasonably care for the senior, make arrangements with a trusted family member or hire an assisted care provider to take on the bulk of the responsibilities while you begin the search for a suitable care facility.

2. Do Plenty of Research

The best way to find a safe nursing home for your elderly loved one is to start with referrals.

Talk with your friends and family, consult with the senior's physician, and get acquainted with those who have had first-hand experience either working or living in a nursing home.

When you've narrowed down your choices, do plenty of research on each facility to find out if there are any serious complaints or lawsuits against them.

3. Visit at the Right Times

According to, the two best times to visit a nursing home is during mealtime and after 6 p.m. on a Saturday.

A visit during mealtime will give you an idea of how the residents are treated during what is likely the most stressful time of the day.

A visit on Saturday evenings will give you a chance to have more candid conversations with the staff, residents, and family members. During this time, few managers or marketing people will be around, so you can get a more genuine feel for the facility's atmosphere.


4. Ask Questions, Take Notes, and Pay Attention

When you visit the facility, pay equal attention to the behavior of the residents and the staff. Do the residents seem comfortable or tense? Are staff members responding quickly and warmly to residents, or are they snapping at or ignoring them?

Take in the overall look, feel, and smell of the place. The residents should be clean, well-groomed, and have tidy surroundings. If the place looks good but smells bad, move on. Something isn't right.

When you talk with management, be sure to ask for a detailed explanation of your loved one's care plan. Becoming familiar with standard procedure will help you better identify when something is amiss.

You should also inquire about staff turnover, medication management, and emergency plans.

If the staff becomes evasive or defensive at any point during your conversation, politely excuse yourself and leave. A reputable nursing facility will have no trouble answering any questions you may have.

5. Watch Out for Binding Arbitration Agreements

When you're ready to sign paperwork, make sure you read the fine print. If you see anything in it about a binding arbitration agreement, stop filling out the forms immediately and consult your attorney.

(If you sign it, you're basically signing away your rights to sue should anything happen to your loved one while in the facility.)

An elderly care facility can bring a renewed sense of purpose to residents while offering family peace of mind. No matter what type of nursing home you visit, show them that you're a strong advocate. Residents with someone who cares for them on the outside will be much less likely to be mistreated than those who are placed and then forgotten about.

Also, no matter what you see on the outside, if it doesn't feel right in your gut, keep looking. Finding the right place is well worth the effort.

See also:

Signs of Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes


About the author:

Jaime is a professional freelance writer with a passion for natural health and wellness. Her website, I Told You I Was Sick, was created to help those living with chronic pain and illness find natural ways to heal.



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