Nursing Home Questions

Relocating a loved one to a nursing home or elder care facility can be a difficult and nerve-racking process. Keep these ideas in mind if you are looking for a facility where you can put your loved ones in good hands.

Ask Medicare. The government regularly releases ratings data on all 17,000 nursing homes in the country. This information can be accessed by visiting and clicking on "Nursing Home Compare," or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.

Ask around. Consult your or your loved one's doctor. Talk to friends or an elder care organization in your area. Find out what other people think of the facilities you're considering.

Tour each facility. Try to arrive a little early so that you can have some time to develop your own impression. Pay attention to how the staff interacts with the residents. Is the atmosphere friendly, relaxed, and inviting? Does the facility meet your requirements for quality of life and care, location, staffing, and security? Determine whether the facility is properly licensed, certified, and accredited, and make sure that its policies are clearly stated.

Be sure about insurance. You should also ensure that your loved one's insurance will cover the costs of residency. Consider the degree to which the costs of elder care are expected to increase as the baby boomers pass retirement age.

Explore your options. If the facility you choose does not currently have an available bed, don't settle for a less pleasing alternative. Perhaps you can arrange for temporary home care or a stay at a short-term facility until something opens up.