How to Evaluate a Nursing Home

Assisted living, nursing home, memory care, continuous care residential communities are residential care options

How to Evaluate a Nursing Home

Assisted living, nursing home, memory care, continuous care residential communities are residential care options

Top Reasons for Nursing
Home Star Ratings

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have created a 5-star system to help consumers compare nursing homes.

It’s human nature to ignore unpleasant tasks until the last minute. Like finding the best nursing home for a short stay or to remain under nursing care for the remainder of life on earth. Few of us, outside the healthcare industry, would spend a leisurely Sunday afternoon visiting prospective nursing homes. In fact, most of us have no idea what to look for in a nursing home.

Be Aware

Residential care refers to many different living arranngements.

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The Risk

Lack of long-term care insurance makes paying for residential care painful.

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Cost of a semi-private nursing home room


Average number of beds in an Assisted Living Facility


Annual cost of homemaker services

Step 1: Assessing Specific Care Needs

Begin by thoroughly assessing the specific care needs of your loved one. Consider their current health condition, mobility, and cognitive abilities. Identify whether they require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, and grooming. Additionally, evaluate any medical conditions or memory-related issues that may necessitate specialized care, such as in the case of memory care. This initial step helps to determine the level of care required and narrows down the type of residential care facility that would be most suitable.

Step 2: Touring Facilities and Evaluating Amenities

Once you have a clear understanding of your loved one’s care needs, visit potential residential care homes to assess their facilities and amenities. Schedule tours with each facility to observe the living spaces, common areas, and outdoor spaces. Take note of the cleanliness, safety measures, and overall atmosphere. Inquire about the range of services provided, such as medication management, therapy options, and social activities. Evaluate the quality of meals and inquire about any special dietary accommodations. Pay attention to the level of personalization and flexibility in care plans to ensure they can cater to your loved one’s unique requirements.

Step 3: Interacting with Staff and Gauging Personalized Care

Engage with the staff at each residential care home to gauge their level of expertise, compassion, and dedication to personalized care. Inquire about staff-to-resident ratios, staff training programs, and their approach to handling emergencies. Assess the communication style of the staff and their willingness to involve family members in the care planning process. Request information on how the facility tailors care plans to meet individual needs, particularly for residents with specific health conditions or memory-related challenges. A strong and supportive staff can significantly contribute to the overall well-being of your loved one.

Step 4: Checking Reviews and Gathering Feedback

Research online reviews and gather feedback from current residents and their families. Look for testimonials that highlight the positive aspects of the residential care home, as well as any concerns or issues that have been raised. Check for licensing and accreditation to ensure the facility meets regulatory standards. Reach out to healthcare professionals or local agencies for additional insights. By collecting diverse perspectives, you can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the residential care home’s reputation and the experiences of those who have entrusted their loved ones to its care.

Notes from the Author

How to Pay,  What Level,  Where to Live, & Who Providers Care

Providing quality residential care, encompassing assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, short-term rehabilitation, and independent living, is a crucial aspect of addressing the diverse needs of aging individuals. However, financing these services can be a complex and challenging process.

Understanding the Cost of Residential Care

The cost of residential care varies significantly based on the type of services required, geographical location, and the specific amenities offered by the facility. Assisted living and independent living units generally cost less than memory care or skilled nursing care due to the varying levels of assistance and medical support provided. It is essential for individuals and their families to have a clear understanding of the anticipated costs associated with the desired level of care.

Exploring Private Payment Options

  1. Personal Savings and Investments: Many individuals fund their residential care through personal savings, investments, and retirement accounts. This option provides flexibility and control over finances, allowing for a more personalized approach to care.
  2. Long-Term Care Insurance: Long-term care insurance is designed to cover the costs associated with residential care. Policies vary, and it is crucial to review the terms, coverage limits, and any exclusions. Purchasing long-term care insurance earlier in life can be more cost-effective.

Government Assistance Programs

  1. Medicaid: Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides financial assistance for individuals with limited income and assets. Eligibility criteria vary by state, and not all residential care facilities accept Medicaid, so it is essential to check facility participation.
  2. Veterans Benefits: Veterans and their spouses may be eligible for benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Aid and Attendance, a supplemental pension program, can provide financial support for those requiring assistance with daily living activities.

Home Equity and Reverse Mortgage Options

  1. Home Equity: Individuals who own a home may consider using home equity to finance residential care. This can be achieved through selling the home, taking out a home equity loan, or utilizing a home equity line of credit (HELOC).
  2. Reverse Mortgages: Seniors aged 62 and older may explore reverse mortgages as a means of converting home equity into cash. This financial tool allows individuals to remain in their homes while accessing funds for residential care.

Exploring State and Local Programs

  1. State-Sponsored Programs: Some states offer financial assistance or subsidies for residential care, especially for low-income individuals. Research state-specific programs that may provide support.
  2. Area Agencies on Aging: Local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) can provide valuable information on community resources, programs, and services that may assist with the financial aspects of residential care.

Navigating the financial landscape of residential care in the United States requires careful planning and consideration of various options. It is essential for individuals and their families to assess their specific needs, explore available resources, and develop a comprehensive financial strategy. By understanding the costs associated with different levels of care and leveraging private and public financial support systems, individuals can make informed decisions that ensure quality residential care for themselves or their loved ones. The collaboration between residential care providers, financial advisors, and families is crucial in creating a supportive and sustainable model for the future of elderly care in the United States.

Monica Stynchula – CEO / REUNIONCare, Inc.