Though many people do not want to think about a nursing home for a loved one, there are times when it may not be possible to adequately care for and meet the medical needs of a family member. This could be due to their advanced age, illness or an injury which requires medical care.

Nursing homes elicit a negative image in the minds of many. And there are times when stories of nursing home neglect and elder abuse make headlines. Thus, many families may be wary. The decision to put a loved one in a nursing home should not be taken lightly. In an effort to help make the right choice when it comes to selecting a nursing home, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institute on Aging has a publication which offers families tips on making their selection.

NIA notes that there are three different types of nursing homes. There are those which are similar to hospitals, those which are more homelike, and those which are a combination of both a hospital and home environment. NIA recommends that the family consult with a healthcare provider on what kind of care is necessary for their loved one, get any recommendations the doctor may have on the type of facility, and work with social workers in the hospital when deciding.

Once the choice of facilities has been narrowed down, it is best to call the facilities and ask specific questions about pertinent topics such as the cost, the number of residents, the type of healthcare provided, whether they are certified and if they have been inspected. It is not a time to be shy.

A phone call should be followed up with an on-site visit to tour the nursing home. One can then request to see the certification and any inspection records. If presented with a contract, it is very important to carefully read the terms in the contract and ask questions. Choosing the right nursing home for a loved one can make all the difference in their quality of life.

Source: National Institute on Aging, “Nursing Homes: Making the Right Choice,” Accessed April 13, 2015