Before you choose a nursing home for your loved one, there are several factors to consider. Think about your personal situation and the nursing homes you are researching. There are many factors to consider before making a decision. I’ve compiled a list of the most basic steps to take when narrowing down the home options. Taking the time to investigate these steps and tips will help to protect your loved one.

Determine If a Nursing Home Is Right For Your Loved One

There are many different help options for your loved one. While a nursing home is a common option, it might not be right for your situation. There are alternative treatment opportunities to consider before making a decision. One of these other options might be best for your loved one. Consider the following alternatives to a nursing home.

Home health aide. Home health aides work in an elderly person’s home, helping with everyday tasks such as walking, dressing, bathing, etc. A home health aide can also cook, clean, and arrange transportation for a client. Some home health aides are even certified to help with medical issues. Home health aides do not provide live-in help. But, they can spend a good part of the day helping their elderly clients fulfill day-to-day tasks.

Live in assistance. A live in assistant is like a home health aide, but one major difference is that they do not simply visit the elderly client. They provide 24 hours a day, usually by a team of nurses who take shifts with your parent.

Adult day care. This nonresidential facility will meet an elderly person’s social, physical, and emotional needs during the day.

Respite care. Respite care is provided to relieve everyday caregivers of their duties. This is a temporary institutional care option.

Continued care retirement community. This option is for elderly people who can and wish to maintain their independence while receiving necessary help from nurses and caregivers. In a continued care retirement community, residents can live independently in homes or apartments. But, they will receive treatment and help when needed.

These options are just a few alternatives to nursing homes for your loved one.

Ask for Referrals

Trusting strangers with the care of one of the most important people in your life can be difficult. Many people choose to ask people they know about their experiences with homes. Oftentimes, a loved one is going through a situation that is like yours, and they can give you some advice. Your loved one might even have some friends in a nursing home that they are interested in living in. Instead of blindly hoping that a home is good, ask loved ones about their experiences with homes. A good recommendation from a person that you trust can be a great place to start in your nursing home search.

Understand Your Loved One’s Personal Needs

One of the first things to consider if you think that your loved one should go to a nursing home is their needs. Not all nursing homes can handle the needs of certain elderly people. You need to communicate with your family member to understand common issues such as:

  • Dietary restrictions.
  • Current medication.
  • Regular doctor appointments for specific treatment.
  • Physical limitations.
  • Mental limitations.
  • Physical therapy needs.
  • Grief over the loss of a spouse or loved one.
  • Depression.
  • Emotional needs.
  • Help walking, dressing, bathing, using the bathroom, eating, etc.
  • Loss of memory.

Discussing your loved one’s needs can be difficult. You may be unaware of the true extent of your loved one’s current limitations. Discussing their needs can be shocking to you. This is common, as some elderly people do not want to burden family members with their problems. They also might feel embarrassed about their needs. It is important to be gentle and supportive. Be prepared to learn things about your loved one that you were not aware of. Stressing the importance of honesty will help you communicate.

Find a Home That Fits Your Loved One’s Needs

Most homes can handle the issues above and other common issues that elderly people face. But, you might find that some nursing homes list their limitations on their websites. For example, if your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, find a home that treats this.

You can contact a nursing home and ask them what kind of special services they offer. Because this is such a basic requirement, it is worth looking into. You should do this before you go any further researching the home or trying to visit it.

Understand Your Loved One’s Financial Needs

When finding a living situation for your loved one, their physical and emotional needs must be considered. But, these are not the only needs to think about. You should also think about how they will afford to live in a nursing home. If your loved one has Medicare or Medicaid, this is a good start. Your loved one can use one of these services to pay for their care. Also, these services will protect your loved one from discrimination, neglect, and abuse.

Another way to pay for nursing home care is through private finances. This might be an option depending on your family’s personal situation. Again, you should have an open discussion about the state of your loved one’s finances. This will help you determine if private funds can pay for the nursing home. Understanding the financial situation will help you narrow down what your loved one qualifies for.

Determine the Nursing Home’s Payment Policy

Having Medicare or Medicaid does not mean that these programs will pay all nursing home bills. In general, Medicare will not cover long-term nursing home care. Sometimes, if your loved one has Medicaid, this will pay for a nursing home or live-in care. But, this is not always the case. Not every nursing home participates in the Medicare or Medicaid program. You should check the payment policy before you seriously consider a particular nursing home.

In general, choosing a home certified with Medicaid or Medicare is a good idea. When you are a resident in certified facility, federal and state law protect your rights. Such rights/protection for your parent include the right:

  • To get treated with respect.
  • To receive information about fees and services of the nursing home.
  • Not to be the subject of discrimination.
  • To exercise their rights as a US citizen.
  • To take part in program activities.
  • Not to face neglect, abuse, or restraint.
  • To make complaints against the nursing home.
  • To manage their own money or having a trusted friend or family member manage it on their behalf.
  • Privacy for his or her personal property.
  • To have appropriate medical care.
  • To see visitors.
  • For social services such as counseling.
  • To leave the nursing home.
  • To have a representative or family notified if they are injured or experiences a physical issue.


For many families, location is an essential part of finding a nursing home for their loved ones. Finding a nursing home close to your home will ensure that you can visit your loved one at any time, for any reason. Finding a nursing home close to where you live will make this process much easier for your whole family. Location is a factor that you should consider when discussing nursing home options.

Research the Home’s History

Check to see if the nursing home has testimonials on it’s website. Testimonials from residents and family members of residents can be helpful. Also consider asking around to determine the general opinion of the nursing home. What does your loved one’s doctor think of the home? Do any of your friends, colleagues, or family members have experience with this home? Was the experience positive or negative? You should also consider previous complaints filed against the nursing home. Has there been a pattern of neglect and abusive behavior? Has the nursing home made an effort to address and fix any issues? These are all important questions that you should be asking as you research a nursing home. A nursing home’s history can show you the direction that it is headed in.

Research the Home’s History With the Police

You should consider the history that a nursing home you are looking at has with the police. Check to see if any reports have been filed for neglect and abuse against the home. This will give you an accurate history of neglect and abuse in the nursing home.

Another thing to look for when researching a home is the criminal history of its staff members. You can check to see if staff members have violent or antisocial pasts. If a staff member has been charged with a crime such as assault, they might abuse residents in the nursing home.

Consult Your Loved One’s Primary Care Physician

Your loved one’s physician has experience with their medical history and current medical conditions. Using knowledge in the medical field and experience with your loved one, this physician can help your family find the right nursing home. Meet with your loved one’s physician to express your concerns. Together, you can determine the best nursing homes in the area for your loved one’s needs.