There are nearly 30,000 nursing homes in the United States, which is growing. Around 70 percent of Americans who reach 65 will need adult care.
The decision to put your spouse, parent, or family member in a care facility is always fraught with difficulty. You’re wrangling with some intense emotions while trying to think logically about the center that would best meet their needs. The facility you choose needs to be within your financial means—or the means of your loved one’s estate.
If a spouse or family member needs more care than you can provide at home, you shouldn’t feel guilty about the decision to seek alternative care. Instead, spend your time focusing on finding the best new home possible.
Read on to learn how to do just that.
Assess the Needs of Your Family Member
If you’re considering moving your loved one into a care home, it’s time to assess what type of care they need.
Ask yourself a few questions:
- Do they need help with everyday tasks?
- Do they have dementia, and is it early or late stage?
- Do they have a serious medical condition that needs round-the-clock care?
- Do they have to take daily medication?
- Are they able to interact socially or not?
Some care homes provide minimal medical care and intervention, whereas other facilities are set up to care for residents with special needs.
You need to decide what level of care your family member requires to help you narrow down your list of prospective homes. For example, your area may only have one or two specialist dementia centers (or homes with a dementia unit).
In that case, though you want to keep your loved one nearby, it may not be possible.
Consider the Location
Another critical factor when making a shortlist of care home options is location. In other words, how far away from your home do you want your loved one to live?
Things to consider include:
- How far will you have to travel to visit them?
- Do they have other friends or family nearby?
- What amenities are nearby the home (libraries, shops, cafes, cinemas, etc.)?
- Is the area safe and quiet?
Staying close to the community they grew up or lived in is ideal. Moving into even the best care home can be stressful. By moving into a center in their area, a person can retain that sense of “home” and familiarity, lessening anxiety.
Once you know what area would be ideal, draw, effectively, a circle on the map and start looking for care homes in that area. Some websites even do the work for you by listing facilities by area—for example, this elder care advocacy website here.
Once you have an idea of the care centers that meet your family member’s needs in your preferred area, it’s time to dig deeper into their reputation. This will help you narrow your list further.
Ideally, you want to look for accredited nursing homes—though that’s not always an indication of the best facility. One first stop is entering the name of the centers you’re considering into the Better Business Bureau. Here, you can see the ratings from family members and clients and read what people have written about their experiences.
Another way to look for the best care homes is to ask family and friends for referrals. If you’re in a certain age bracket, it’s likely your peers have recently or are going through the same experience of finding a facility for their loved ones.
Review the Costs
Whether you’re looking for a group home or a specialist care facility, your choice may be limited by how much you can afford to pay. Care homes can be expensive, and they often have complicated fee structures.
You must assess the fees of each home you’re considering before adding them to your shortlist.
While it depends on the facility, care costs are typically broken down by:
- Laundry service
- Electricity, water, and gas bills
- Extracurricular activities
- Amenities fees
- Medical services
- Other professional services (like hairdressers)
If you can’t find a thorough breakdown of costs on the nursing home’s website, ask for it and study it carefully.
Remember, if your family member needs to access Medicaid to pay for their home, their choices may be limited.
Make a Shortlist
Now that you’ve gathered information about the facilities in your preferred location, it’s time to make an adult home shortlist.
Aim for around 3 to 4 homes—though this could be more or less depending on individual circumstances. For example, some less populated rural locales may only have 1 or 2 care homes to choose from.
Rank your preferred care providers in terms of priority.
Which home best meets the needs of your loved one? Which is closest to you or amenities they need or love to visit? Which looks like it has the best quality interior design, food, and activities?
And, of course, which facility is within your budget or the limitations of your family member’s care plan?
Visit the Best Facilities
The last step in considering the assisted living options for your loved one is visiting all the centers on your shortlist.
This is imperative. Without visiting a facility, you’ll have no idea whether the actual situation matches the pretty photographs on their website.
When visiting a home, ask the representative to:
- Provide you with their latest inspection report
- Show you all the amenities available to residents, including medical facilities
- Give you a list of referees you can call to find out more about their experience with the home
You also need to be on the lookout for less obvious things, such as:
- Do the residents appear happy, healthy, and engaged?
- Are the rooms personalized?
- Is there evidence of regular activities for residents?
- How attentive are the staff to the resident’s needs and requests?
- Does the facility smell fresh or stale?
- Is there access to the outside, such as a garden?
- Is the layout accessible?
- Does the food look appealing and nutritious?
Don’t be afraid to make surprise visits, either. Sometimes this can be the only way to get a feel for the genuine level of care being provided by a home. You can also consider arranging a trial stay to see how well your loved one likes the home without committing.
Finding Adult Care That Cares
Seeking adult care for close family members is often a fact of life for people middle-aged and older. As our parents and spouses age, we need to know they’re taken good care of while still being able to live our own lives.
It’s by no means wrong to want to seek a live-in option for your loved one. However, you must conduct careful research to find the best residential facility in your area. This means matching your family member’s needs with the care center’s location and amenities.
For more advice on living with and caring for the older adults in your life, read the other blogs on our website.