Choosing a good nursing home for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is a very important decision that requires careful evaluation and some homework. Here are some steps that can help you find a good facility and avoid a bad one.
You should also contact your local long-term care ombudsman. This is a government official who investigates nursing home complaints and can tell you which ones have had problems in the past. To find your local ombudsman, call your Area Agency on Aging or see ltcombudsman.org.
Also, find out about their staff screening (do they do background checks) and training procedures, staff-to-patient ratio, and the staff turnover rate.
To help you rate your visit, Medicare offers a helpful checklist of questions to ask at medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/checklist.pdf, as does the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org/visitinganursinghome.pdf. Print these lists from your computer and take them with you on your visit.
Most nursing home residents pay for care from either personal savings, a long-term care insurance policy, or through Medicaid once their savings are depleted.
The National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information website (longtermcare.gov) is a good resource that can help you understand and research your financial options. You can also get help from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which provides free counseling on all Medicare and Medicaid issues. To find a local SHIP counselor visit shiptacenter.org, or call (800) 677-1116.
For more information, see Medicare’s online booklet “Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home” at medicare.gov/publications/pubs/pdf/02174.pdf.