How Do I Choose the Right Care Home for My Parents?

Choosing the right care home for your parents is easier said than done. The most difficult part is having the conversation – sooner rather than later. Being open about long-term needs and purchasing long-term insurance is a great way to keep assisted living in the conversation. 

To be frank, you may not be the person who decides where or when your parent or parents move. Your mother or father may choose a place for themselves. So, if you’re helping, here are some things to consider. Before that, let’s address the elephant in the room: is it wrong?

Is it Wrong to Put Your Parents in a Nursing Home?

To be blunt, no, it’s not wrong to place your parents in a nursing home if their health conditions require it. It’s important to understand that a nursing home or skilled nursing facility is for those who need around-the-clock care. 

In contrast to a nursing home are assisted living or residential care facilities which give your parent freedom while providing daily support. When you interview a care home facility, make sure they offer standard services. Don’t be shy about asking about pricing and payment terms.

“Assisted living typically offers services such as exercise and wellness programs, housekeeping, laundry, meals, planned outings, social activities and transportation.” AARP

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Put Your Parent in Assisted Living?

We don’t like the phrasing of “put your parent in assisted living” since it should be their choice. Unless you have power of attorney, your parent is a person with agency to choose. It’s time to move to a care home when your mom, dad, or uncle can no longer do their daily chores, forget to shower, and/or can’t manage their medications

Maybe it’s too hard for your mom to keep up with laundry. Maybe your dad can’t cook for himself anymore. Maybe your Auntie hasn’t bathed in a week. When considering care homes, be sure you’re not dealing with a memory issue like Alzheimer’s or Dementia as they typically need to be in a memory care facility.

“Problems with self-care or other activities of daily living (ADLs) are a sign someone may not be OK living by themselves.” Consumer Affairs

What Questions Should You Ask When Choosing a Care Home?

Asking questions is super important. Just as you would do extensive research on the house you bought, you should research the care home and its neighborhood. 

Here are some questions to ask:

  1. Can I see last week’s meal calendar?
  2. What planned activities happen each week?
  3. How will my mom choose activities?
  4. How many people share a bathroom?
  5. Is this facility only for men or women?
  6. Does this facility have an occupational therapist on staff?
  7. What is your staff turnover rate?
  8. When can I schedule a tour?
  9. Do you accept long-term care insurance?
  10. Is public transportation nearby?

Along with these questions, you can download AARP’s checklist to bring with you to your appointments.

“Watching how meals are structured is an important component in understanding if a facility is right for your parent.” US News & World Report