10 questions to ask in your nursing home search

It’s no secret that seniors are the fastest-growing age demographic across North America. And this growing clout of this age bracket means it’s becoming easier to find products and services specially-made for seniors and older people.

But sometimes too much selection can become hard to navigate. When it comes to finding the perfect nursing home for your parent, for example, where do you begin? There are more than 16,000 nursing homes in the United States housing nearly two million beds – that’s an intimidating number.

But when beginning your search, here’s a list of the 10 things you questions you need to answer to help  find the best residence for your parent:

1/ Where does your parent’s family, including you, live? It’s an important consideration in deciding where to look first if your family lives in one state, but your parent wants to move to the other part of the country. It’s not impossible, but consider the time, expenses and emotional cost of constantly going to visit hundreds of miles away. Are there any closer options?

2/ What kind of care does your parent need? If your parent is able to feed, clothe, bathe and toilet themselves, but only requires minor assistance, than perhaps a nursing care community isn’t right for them. Instead, an independent living community might be a better option. When you visit local facilities, ask their staff what level of care they offer.

3/ What’s your budget? When evaluating how much you can afford, ask yourself how much money your parent has saved, and how long that might last. Additionally, look into whether the residence has any financial aid possibilities, or whether there are non-profit alternatives.

4/ How many doctors or nurses are at the nursing home at any time? When there’s a medical emergency, it’s good to know that there are health professionals in the same building instead of a 10 minute drive away. It’s also worth asking the nursing home what kind of medical equipment is at the home.

5/ What kind of activities are offered? Multiple studies have shown that exercise – both physical and mental – can assist in strengthening cognitive abilities, both among seniors and the general public. If your parent is suffering from the early stages of dementia, make sure that the nursing home options you’re considering offer excellent opportunities for your parent to strengthen their brains and their bodies.

6/ What do the meals look like? A healthy, nutritious meal can make a big difference for someone with chronic pain and discomfort, so make sure that your parent has meals they look forward to, and are also good for them.

7/ What do the residents and their families think? When you’re on a tour or visit, ask to speak to residents. If that’s not permitted, ask for the contact info of families of residences. They will be honest about their experiences, and will help you in your decision-making process.

8/ Are there enough pull cords? Falls among seniors are common, including in bathrooms. So when you’re in for a visit at the nursing home, take a look at the bathroom and see whether there are pull cords near the toilet and bathtub, and if so, who is alerted when the cord is pulled. No matter where your parent is, you want them to be safe.

9/ How large is the community? There are benefits of both larger and smaller homes, but much depends on personal preferences. Smaller homes may provide a homier atmosphere where residents are all known personally; larger ones may provide better amenities and healthcare options. It’s your decision, but think about it.

10/ What does your parent think? It’s great to compare and contrast the benefits and drawbacks of various nursing homes, but in the end it comes down to what you and your parent think. If you think one location is best, but your parent strenuously disagrees, then maybe it’s not right for them. Ask them, and be open.