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What to watch for when choosing a nursing home for a loved one

Choosing a long-term facility for a loved one can be a daunting task, particularly when there are horror stories about nursing home abuse and neglect. Nursing homes are for those who need round the clock supervision, nursing care and assistance with regular, everyday tasks.

Nursing homes may also provide speech, physical and occupational therapy services. Some only live in a nursing home for a short period of time, others are residents until the end of their lives. Finding the right facility can alleviate a huge emotional and mental burden for family members.

What is important?

The National Institute on Aging encourages people to consider what they want before they start looking for a nursing home. Location may be important if the person wants family and friends to visit regularly. Patients may also need hospice care, religious connections, meals or specialized treatment for dementia.

With so many facilities out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. Friends and family provide good references and reviews, and nursing homes will take any questions that a potential resident or their family members have. Many have waiting lists and that may be a factor in the decision-making process.

Carefully read checklists and contracts

The Medicare Nursing Home Checklist provides a good list of questions to ask for those looking for a nursing home. This may include information about handicap access, and Medicaid and Medicare certification.

Once a nursing home is selected, a contract is signed. This is the time to read carefully through the details and obtain the peace of mind that is needed to trust professionals with the care of a family member