Things to consider when looking for a nursing home or other care facility

Uncategorized Jul 19, 2020

Welcome back, Careblazer.  Today I want to share some things you’ll want to think about and consider when trying to choose a care facility for your LOWD. 


If you would rather watch my video on this topic, click here.


When it comes to finding a higher level of care, everyone knows that cost is a big consideration. But today, I want to share with you other factors that are also important to think about so you are well-informed and can have a better understanding of whether the facility is a good fit for you and your LOWD. 


Once you’ve found some options in the price range you are looking for, It’s easy to walk into a facility, notice the fancy chandelier in the entrance, the fireplace in the lobby, the nice furniture in community areas. These things can make you feel like it’s a good, caring place.  But, those things are there to impress you and tells you nothing about the type of care your LOWD will receive. 


I want to cut through the fluff and share some important things you’ll want to look for and ask about to help you know if it will be a good fit, if and when the time comes when your LOWD might need a higher level of care. 


I’m also going to share with you some resources you can take advantage of when that time comes, such as a website where you can look up different nursing homes and assisted living facilities to see what types of citations and investigations they’ve had. 


Before I get started, I’m hosting a FREE live online class on how to lower your dementia caregiver stress and feel better using my Careblazer MAP.  I have several times and days to choose from. I hope to see you there. The link to register and save your spot is here.  


Okay, let’s talk about some important things to consider when looking at facilities. Some of these items may not be important to you, other areas may be very important. You don’t have to ask about all of these areas if something isn’t really that important, but I hope these areas get you thinking about some things that are really important to you or your LOWD. 


  • What kinds of activities are available at the facility?
    • Ask to see a calendar of events and take note if there is an activity scheduled to occur at the time you are there so you can see if it’s actually happening. 
    • Are activities scheduled during evenings and weekends? 
  • Can your LOWD go to bed and wake up when they want or will staff require them to be up at a certain time to get any needed care? 
  • If they miss a mealtime, can they still get a meal served or delivered to them?
  • How is the dining environment?
    • Is there a variety of food options?
    • Ask to see a menu.
    • Ask if you are able to join them for meals from time to time. 
  • Is transportation to medical appointments, grocery stores, shopping, religious services available? 
  • Is personal care time flexible and done with consideration of your LO’s preferences and individual schedule or will they be required to get personal care tasks completed at certain times? 


Take a look around the facility and take note if the residents appear clean, well-groomed, and dressed appropriately. 



  • Are you encouraged to help in care planning?
    • I’ve worked in 2 different memory care facilities.  As part of regular care, there were care meetings where the entire team comes together to discuss the resident, how they are doing, if their needs are being met, and any other things we can do to improve care.  The family was always invited to those meetings and you may want a facility that extends that offer to you as well. 
  • Are you informed of changes to their condition and care needs?
    • Will you be alerted if they fall, if they aren’t eating as much, if they are losing or gaining weight, if they are not taking their medications, etc. 
  • Do you have access to communicate with staff? 
  • What are the visiting hours? Do they work with your schedule? 
  • Can you join your LOWD for activities and meals that are going on in the facility? 
  • Can you take your LOWD out of the facility for outings/weekend stays? 



  • What kind of training do the staff members get in dementia care? 
  • What is their approach to responding to challenging behaviors
    • If your LOWD has some challenging behaviors - specifically ask how they would respond to that type of behavior.
  • Are there physicians or nurse practitioners on-site to address any medical concerns? 
  • Can medical care be provided or will it require your LOWD to take a trip to the clinic/hospital to see providers? 
  • Does the facility work with hospice and other end-of-life services? 



  • Are there unpleasant odors? 
  • Is the indoor space good for moving around with a walker or wheelchair? 
  • How is the indoor/outdoor space monitored? 
  • What space is available for family visits? 
  • Can you bring familiar and favorite items/objects from home to their bedroom?



  • Will your LOWD receive help with eating if needed?
  • Are other services like OT, PT, speech, and rec therapy available?
  • If needs change and your LOWD needs more care due to dementia progressing, can the facility adjust and provide more care or will they need to be moved?
  • If your loved one has to go to the ER, will an escort be provided?


The Alzheimer’s Association has an in-depth checklist that you can review with a lot of areas you may want to look for when considering placement. The link to that checklist is here.


You can also call the Alzheimer’s Association at 800-272-3900 to get help in making a decision about where to place your LOWD and they can also offer you a community resource tool to help you as you make your decision. 


Also, nursing home inspection reports are available online for anyone to see. In looking at the reports, I decided to check out some of the places where I have patients living. In one of the places, I saw citations about residents with dementia being able to wander away from the facility without detection and exit alarms not working.  To me, that tells me this isn’t a place I’d want to send a loved one who has dementia, is able to walk, and has a tendency to wander. The link to that website, where you can search by state is linked here.


Careblazer, I hope that helps you if you are in the process of looking for a higher level of care. I also hope it can offer help to those of you who may be considering this in the future.



Community Resource Finder (including finding housing options)  is here



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