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Comparing Nursing Homes

Use this checklist to ask the right questions when choosing a long-term care facility

En español | Sometimes the need for a nursing home comes unexpectedly. Your parent falls or has a serious medical diagnosis and is being discharged from a hospital, but he or she still requires skilled care.

See also: How do nursing homes work?

AARP recommendations for the right questions to ask when choosing a nursing home for a family member- a nurse walks with a patient outside

Asking the right questions is key to choosing the best nursing home for your loved one. — Photo by Mikkel Grabowski/Gallery Stock

Choosing the right home can be difficult. As with any big decision, it pays to do some research.

First, consider the location. It's best for the nursing home to be one that family and friends can visit often. People in nursing homes who have regular visitors usually receive better care.

Also, try to visit a few nursing homes — with your parent and other family members, if possible — so you can make comparisons.

When touring a nursing home, remember to:

  • Observe the activities offered to residents;
  • Taste the food;
  • Visit at least twice;
  • Make one unscheduled stop on the weekend or evening when there may be staffing problems.

Talk to nursing staff to make sure the kind of care your loved one needs is provided. Ask about things such as:

  • Transportation to medical appointments;
  • Physical therapy;
  • Staff with special training for dealing with your parent's condition;
  • Special units, programs or services for special needs, such as dementia.

Next: Use this checklist to compare the facilities you visit. »

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