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4 important questions to ask before choosing a nursing home

As a caregiver to an aging parent or relative, you are responsible for making informed decisions about your loved one’s care.

When visiting a nursing home, asking the right questions can help you decide whether the facility is appropriate for your family member.

What is your staff-to-resident ratio?

Data from the American Health Care Association shows that staffing is a major issue for nursing homes in the United States. While negligence and abuse can occur in any setting, understaffing can be a contributing factor. High staff turnover is generally a bad sign as well.

How do you prevent illnesses and injuries?

Find out what policies and procedures the facility has in place to keep residents healthy. Do the residents have private bathrooms? What precautions do the staff take to avoid spreading disease? Find out what fall prevention measures are in place and ensure that the facility has the required safety equipment, such as handrails.

Can you accommodate my loved one’s health needs?

If your relative needs specific care, such as dementia care or physical therapy, ask whether the facility offers these services. If your loved one has dietary restrictions or allergies, make sure the kitchen can accommodate them.

What emergency procedures do you have in place?

Does the facility have a plan for a worst-case scenario? Ask what will happen if there is a fire, natural disaster or power outage. Ensure that the nursing home has an emergency evacuation plan and a backup system to deal with power failures.

Placing a family member in a nursing home is not a decision to take lightly. Do not be shy about asking as many questions as you can before making your decision.