What is a Nursing Home?
Unfortunately, scandals from past decades and disturbing media portrayals have left many people with inaccurate views of what nursing homes are like. If your image of nursing homes is a place that’s cold, clinical, and crowded, then it’s time to give your definition an upgrade.
For many families, nursing homes provide a solution to struggles the family can’t handle on their own. And the businesses that run most nursing homes really do make an effort to ensure that they’re offering a space that’s clean, comfortable, and satisfies the needs of all the residents.
The Definition of Nursing Home
The proper definition of the term nursing home, according to Merriam Webster, is “a privately operated establishment providing maintenance and personal or nursing care for persons (as the aged or the chronically ill) who are unable to care for themselves properly.”
While that covers the basics, it really helps more to understand how nursing homes fit into the larger landscape of senior care facilities.
How Nursing Homes Compare to Other Senior Care Options
The senior care landscape has a hierarchy. On the bottom (or top, depending on how you choose to view things), you have independent living communities that provide lots of independence, but limited care. On the top, you have nursing homes that provide limited independence, but lots of care. In between, you have options like home health care and assisted living.
The main thing that differentiates nursing homes from the rest is that they have a trained healthcare professional on staff at all times. On the plus side, that means your loved one will always get the care they need, no matter how serious their healthcare issues are. On the negative side, that makes them much more expensive than assisted living options, which offer full-time care, but only have a trained healthcare professional on staff some of the time. It also usually comes with more lifestyle restrictions, as the staff has to keep the task of taking care of everyone there manageable.
In many cases, seniors start with home health care or assisted living facilities when the need for some extra help arises, and move into nursing homes later when the need increases past the point where other types of care will suffice. In some cases, it can be smarter to move a loved one into a nursing home to begin with, so they don’t have to deal with the dramatic process of moving twice in a short amount of time if their needs increase within the first year or two of assisted living.
How to Find a Good Nursing Home for Your Loved One
While nursing homes in general are typically nicer than their reputation in some circles suggest, that doesn’t mean they’re all created equal. It’s worth spending some time researching the nursing homes available in your area to get a feel for what services and amenities they offer, what current residents and their family members think of their experience there, and which options are most affordable.
Before you commit to any one place, visit a few that look like potentially good candidates so you can get a feel for the environment. Talk to some of the residents there and gauge if they seem happy. The transition to a nursing home is often difficult for seniors, but it will be immeasurably easier if the home they move into is one that’s a good fit. Do your best to find a facility that can come to feel like home for your loved one; you want their final years to be comfortable and happy.
If you’d like to speak with one of local Senior Living Advisors for help finding a good nursing home, please give us a call at (866) 592-8119 for a free consultation.