| In the aftermath of two major hurricanes that recently ravaged Texas and Florida, nursing home administrator Janine Finck-Boyle said, “You can’t just be prepared for when the disaster hits, you have to be prepared for what comes after.”
Finck-Boyle’s words are also true of those facing the declining health of parents or others they care about.
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.
Many families seek out a nursing home only when a health emergency forces them to. Often that leaves them unprepared to make quick decisions about which facility is the best for what may be many years of residence. “It’s a time of real crisis, and families are pressured to make these decisions,” says Kathleen Unroe, a nursing home doctor at the Indiana University Center for Aging Research.
But the hurricane-related deaths at a nursing home in Florida and photos of nursing home residents sitting in wheelchairs with water up to their waists near Houston provide a stark illustration of the need to learn everything possible about the nursing home industry before a crisis.
Here are some answers that will help as you decide where your loved one should live.
How big is the nursing home industry?
There are about 15,600 nursing homes that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs in the United States, a number that largely has held steady since 2009. These operations serve as home for roughly 1.4 million of America’s most frail citizens.