Choosing a nursing home



laughing_elderly_womanWhen our mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 68, we didn’t know what to do. Coming from a culture which strongly believes that the young should take care of the aged, it was hard for us to face the fact that we had to place her in a nursing home. Having somebody come in to take care of her 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, has become a big financial burden. Add to that the emotional burden of seeing her deteriorate each day. Luckily, we found a home for the elderly run by a religious order, with professionally trained nursing nuns to take care of her. Our guilt was appeased when we saw how her physical health improved in an environment where she gets professional medical care as well as the social interaction with people of her age. Visits on weekends became a fun affair for everybody. Her dementia did not improve but we were glad to see her happy and comfortable during the last few years of her life.

Choosing the right nursing home is the key to our loved one’s quality of life and to our peace of mind. It is also a big responsibility.

As HealthCare 411 at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) rightly said

Unfortunately, it has been easier to find more detailed information about the best flat-screen television or most fuel-efficient vehicle than on a good local nursing home.

It is for this reason that AHRQ developed a special tool as part of their Navigation Healthcare Program. The online tool called Nursing Home Compare is aimed to help find the nursing home that suits your loved ones needs by giving detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the US. The homes are rated on a 5-star quality system based on health inspections, staffing levels, and quality evaluations, among others.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends taking the following steps when using the tool:

There are also alternatives to nursing homes, including community-based services, home care, or assisted living and information on these are also available in the AHRQ site.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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