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Coming to the realization that your aging loved one needs to be placed in a nursing home can be difficult and feel overwhelming. Perhaps they have had an injury or illness they cannot recover from, or their recovery is slow and something you are not able to medically or physically assist them in. You are putting their complete care into the hands of someone else, and it is natural that you want to make sure all of their physical and mental needs are being met.

Some nursing homes can be located within residential neighborhoods (also called board and care homes), but most are special communities designed to meet the ever-changing needs of the seniors who live there. Essential amenities of a nursing home should include:

  • Three hot meals a day.
  • Medically trained staff to assist with medications, wound care, and recognizing and addressing medical emergencies.
  • Occupational therapists to help with grooming, personal care, and moving patients from place to place.
  • Social events such as music, games, outside activities, and more.
  • Record keeping of medical history, doctor’s appointments, and medication adherence.
  • Security in the form of cameras, guards, and/or locked main doors (to prevent wandering).
  • A safe and healthy patient-to-staff ratio.

Nursing homes come in all shapes and sizes so it is imperative that you do your homework in order to find the right one. When searching for a nursing home it is important to tour several different communities, research reviews online, know your specific needs, and come prepared with a list of questions.

A Care Coordinator

If you are using a senior care coordinator or placement service they will be able to help facilitate the entire process, giving you confidence that your choice will be the best one for your specific situation. A senior care coordinator has knowledge of the industry, relationships with the right communities, and experience in helping families provide care for their aging loved ones. They can help you manage your budget, be another person who ‘checks in’ on the patient, and they have a healthy outside perspective of a situation that you are most likely emotionally involved in.

Identify Your Needs

This is a monumental step in choosing the right nursing home for your loved one. If you walk into a community not knowing exactly what you need, you may walk out with a signed contract and paying for services that you don’t need or want. Here are some topics to consider:

  • What are the medical needs?
  • What does your budget allow?
  • How is this care is paid for and can we sustain long term?
  • Do you need a private room or can you share?
  • Do you need transportation services?
  • Where does the community need to be located? (Just like in real estate, location determines the price.)
  • Will your loved one need to transition in and out of different levels of care? (For example, they may only need a nursing home for a few months while they recover from an injury, or they may need to move to a more secure memory care facility in late stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.)

Of course, there are many more details to consider when searching for the best nursing home, but these will hopefully get you started in the right direction.


If you are using a senior care coordinator then they will do most if not all of the heavy lifting for you as you search for the best nursing home. If you are on your own, then it’s important that you take the time to research communities both online and in person. With the wonderful age of the internet, you can see reviews and ratings for almost any business in your area. When setting up appointments to tour nursing homes consider the following practices:

  • Choose at least three nursing homes and visit at different times of the day.
  • Request to eat a meal at each one. This is a normal part of the touring process and should be easily accommodated.
  • Ask to see any other wings (memory care, hospice care, etc.) You may need to move your aging loved one into one of these in the future.
  • Ask the employees how they enjoy working there. Ask them and the management staff about the employee to patient ratios.

Even after you decide on a place, make sure to visit often and drop in at different times of the day and during different events. It is important to see that all parts of the community are working well at all points. Elder abuse is a real and unfortunate part of our world, and studies show that as many as 1 in 10 seniors has suffered some form of it. By researching, asking questions, and visiting often you can help prevent elder abuse.

To learn more about elder abuse, recognize the signs, and what to do if you suspect it clicks here for resources from your state.

Finding the best nursing home for your aging loved one may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Senior care coordinators are available to help you and your family find exactly what you’re looking for. The aging process can be a difficult one, so make sure to reach out and find the support your family needs.