While many older adults prefer to stay in personal or family homes as they age, that is only sometimes feasible. Long-term care in a nursing home may be the best option for those who require continuous assistance with persistent conditions, such as dementia.
As the quality and offerings of nursing homes vary, choosing the most suitable facility for your situation is crucial. Finding a nursing home that best fits your needs may require researching and visiting multiple options.
1. Consider Cost
One important factor to reflect on when exploring your choices is the expense. Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey revealed that the median price of a semiprivate room at a nursing home was $7,908. For an individual room, the median monthly fee was even higher at $9,034.
Private nursing home insurance may cover some or all of the cost. Although Medicare includes medical care for nursing home residents and short-term care in a skilled nursing facility, it will not provide long-term care.
For those on Medicaid, the program covers the total nursing home fees. Medicaid beneficiaries need to consider whether the facility accepts Medicaid. Individuals who plan to enroll in Medicaid once they become eligible might consider selecting a Medicaid-approved facility to make the transition easier.
The American Council on Aging's online search tool allows users to find facilities that accept Medicaid, Medicare, and Veteran's Health Benefits.
2. What Services Are Available?
In addition to cost, those looking at nursing home options should compare the services available across facilities. Some nursing homes have specific care for individuals with memory challenges, for instance.
Nursing homes typically offer activities, such as outings, and amenities, like a recreation room, gym, and television. Assess whether the facility provides transportation to doctor’s appointments and the quality and suitability of the meals.
Rather than focusing on the range of services available, consider whether the nursing home’s services fit your unique needs. Those with beloved pets might consider whether the facility allows pet visits, whereas spiritual individuals might want to verify that the facility provides access to religious services. Memory care units might be a necessity for those with dementia.
3. Evaluate Location
Moving into long-term care is often stressful. Choosing a nursing home close to your hometown, family, or community can help ease the transition. When the nursing home is near to family and friends, loved ones may visit more easily and frequently, providing essential social support.
4. Review the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Reports
To evaluate the quality of nursing homes in your area, try Care Compare, which rates nursing homes out of five stars. Care Compare offers ratings for staffing, health inspections, and quality measures.
The staff-to-patient ratio and the turnover rate are the basis for the staffing rating.
The results of health assessments inform the health inspection rating. Recent health inspection results are available for review, as well as the number of complaints against the facility.
Quality measures include assessments that reveal the nursing home's grade of care. For long-term care residents, low rates of hospitalizations and emergency room visits suggest superior care.
U.S. News and World Report also assesses nursing homes near you, providing ratings for short-term and long-term care.
5. Visit the Facility
Medicare.gov recommends that those looking into nursing homes visit tour facilities with a trusted loved one before making a decision.
Consider the facility’s state, such as whether it is well-lit and accessible. Evaluate the helpfulness of the staff. Ask questions. Write down any additional questions after the visit and follow up.
To learn more about choosing a nursing home, review Medicare.gov’s guide.