How to Compare Nursing Homes

Deciding the right place can be a tedious process that requires a great deal of research and awareness and choosing the right nursing home is no different.  In reality, choosing a nursing home may be more complex because, in addition to common amenities, potential residents also have to consider the researching the staff, programs, and services, medical or otherwise.  Although this site offers a number of articles to help, such as “Nursing Home FAQs”, it is a good idea to bring a checklist that makes sure you don’t miss anything as you compare facilities.

Each list should have its own page with the name and the date of your visit listed at the top; it can also be helpful to make notes next to each point as well.  You can also make sections for each concern to match the flow of the interview and tour from the outside to the inside.  Touring during a time when activities, such as lunch, or a community event, are recommended to get a good idea of staff interaction and overall happiness of the residents.  During your tour of the facility pay attention to the overall cleanliness of the facility; look for dirty floors or walls, listen to the noise level of the rooms, get a sense of smell for each area, and ask a lot about maintenance and housekeeping.  Below


Date of Visit: ______________

Name of Facility: _____________________________________

Address/Location: ____________________________________

Contact Info: ________________________________________


  1. Outside the facility

___ Location: traffic, location to family, etc.


___ Appearance: well maintained (paint, landscaping, sidewalks), mobility friendly (ramps, sidewalk flaws, railing, stairs, etc.).


___ Outside Security: doors easy to open but secure, surveillance, etc.



  1. Lobby

___ Appearance: welcoming décor and friendly staff, smell, sign-in or check I process.


___ Visiting Process: specific visiting hours, waiting area, drinks for guests, etc.


___ Lobby staff: friendly, polite greeting, attentive, knowledgeable/helpful, etc.



  1. Common Areas

___ Hallways: length, railing, ramps, stairs, location of important rooms, elevators, benches, etc.


___ Furniture: comfortable, clean, up-to-date, lots of residents present, etc.


___ Floors: clean, even, fall prevention measures, short distances between areas, etc.


___ Additional rooms: television room, library, gym, pool, computer room, etc.



  1. Rooms/ Apartments

___ Emergency measures: bedroom/bathroom emergency alerts, average response times,


___ Room Floorplan: closet space, in-room furniture, storage options


___ Bathroom: tub/shower, handrails, etc.


___ Different room sizes: floor plan cost comparison,


___ Personal Items: list of items that are allowed and prohibited



  1. Activities, Services, and Programs

___ Meal options: healthy choices, choices for medical conditions, flexible eating schedule, visitor meals, seating plans, kitchenettes available, etc.


___ Medication management: frequency, cost, storage,


___Observe an activity or ask for a community event schedule: bingo nights, movies nights, cookouts, birthday parties, etc.


___Options for outside entertainment: transportation to movies, dinner, shopping, etc.


___ Options for hobbies: library, movie libraries, book clubs, knitting circles, yoga, etc.


___ Personal care services: beauty/barber services, laundry, bedding, spa, etc.


___ Services at additional cost



  1. Other

___ Pet-friendly: allows personal pets, animal-assisted therapy, community pet, pet care services, fenced outside area, etc.


___ Residents: age, happiness, medical accommodations, welcome person, etc.


___ Licenses and regulations: licenses posted, inspections reports, complaint reports, complaint process, evacuation procedures/routes, fire drills, etc.


___ Transportation services: recreational transportation, transportation to medical services, errands, etc.


___Needed additional services: memory care, rehabilitation, physical therapy, etc.



Staff interaction, dining experience, general aesthetics, and room comfort are some of the most important factors for seniors.  Knowing they have a found a place that is safe and complimentary might even influence their longevity and overall quality of life.  Finally, as you check off your criteria and ask all of the necessary questions, imagine yourself actually living there.  Imagine trying to relax or make friends, image interacting with the staff or solving a personal care problem.  As you imagine day-to-day life, imagine waking up and going to bed. Simply, make sure to choose the place that feels just right!

To begin the search for nursing homes in your area, start here. Or you can call (877) 345 – 1706 to speak with a local senior living advisor for free who can help you on your search.


Signs That a Family Member Needs Memory Care

Although memory loss is a common part of aging, the loss of memory can be problem that affects all parts of our lives.  Seniors are at an especially high risk when they cannot remember when they took their medication or where they are going when they travel.  It can be difficult to distinguish between regular memory loss and a more serious problem however there are a few common signs that you can look out for to know if your loved one is really struggling.

  1. Conversations and Speech

How is the quality of the conversations that you have with your loved one?  General forgetfulness is common however the inability to recall important names and dates could be a sign of a bigger problem.  It can also be helpful to watch for changes in speech, such as tone or speed, as slurring can be indication of medical concerns and agitation could point to Alzheimer’s or dementia.

  1. Physical Appearance

Basic hygiene and dressing can be difficult as the body ages.  Pay attention to their clothing and overall hygiene, how often do they change their clothes, brush their teeth, bath, etc.?  The inability to maintain proper hygiene can be a significant factor in choosing to move into a nursing home.  Make sure to pay attention to any possible weight loss and the state of their kitchen.  Messy kitchens, expired food, or limited supplies can all point to more serious concerns.  Senior healthcare programs can help provide consistent, well-rounded, nutritional, and medically approved meals

  1. Medication

Medication can be especially difficult to maintain and monitor.  There are easy risks in mixing up medications, over-medicating, or under-medicating and remembering complex medication schedules can be especially hard.  Senior care programs not only take care of all of those concerns, they also help keep a record of the medications they are taking and what doctor provided the prescription.

  1. Social Interactions

Not all seniors choose to remain active as they enter into retirement however a decline in socialability or an unwillingness to participate in events could be a sign of something more.  If they were members of a club, team, group, or other social activity, check in to see how often they attend. How often do they mention their close friends?  It can be difficult to maintain social schedules when mobility is an issue however seniors that suddenly stop or change their routine may be struggling with emotional problems, such as depression.  Many senior care facilities host ice cream socials, cookout, and other social events that can help with feelings of isolation.

  1. House

What is the state of their home?  Are there any areas that could be dangerous for falls? The overall maintenance of the house can be a huge indicator of whether a senior is struggling with independent living.  Is the kitchen or bathroom messy?  Keeping an eye on the state of the house, yard, garage, and car will help identify any gradual changes as well.  Some senior care programs can help outfit their house for any mobility problems they might have. There are also programs that can help with memory retrieval such as a memory wall that creates a timeline of important dates for seniors with mild memory loss.


Making the decision between assisted living, nursing homes, and in-home healthcare can be a complicated and stressful situation however each choice offers a multitude of options.  Each facility will likely offer some form of memory care however each facility will differ significantly. If you’re looking for more specialized care geared towards seniors with memory loss, start researching Alzheimer’s and memory care facilities.  Cognitive decline can be a profound and troubling concern therefore seeing a doctor is the first step in assessing any problems and finding the right help for your loved one’s needs.


Memory Care Options

The blog is happy to be back in action. Get ready for lots of helpful content to guide you on your senior living search, answer some of your questions surrounding senior care, and provide you with information on senior health and wellness. Let’s kick it off with diving into memory care options.

What is memory care and what can it do for my loved one?  Although memory loss is a typical part of growing older, some seniors may experience what is known as significant “cognitive decline” which requires extra care.  Diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, are not always the culprit; however watching cognitive decline happen can be hard.  Memory care refers to a specialized care that is designed to assist with the consequences of memory loss and help remain connected with things that are important.   Memory care can take the form of in-home services or activities as well as entire facilities dedicated to memory-loss conditions therefore there are a lot of choices out there.

Memory care facilities are often communities that focus their programs and services on catering to the symptoms of memory-loss.  Seniors suffering from significant cognitive decline as particularly vulnerable to stress, confusion, anxiety, and disorientation therefore these facilities may look a little different than an assisted living or nursing home facility.  Often times these communities focus more on natural lighting, comfort amenities, reliable security, and round floorplans that allow for wandering without fear of being lost.  Moreover, the rooms are often equipped with a memory box or wall that provides a timeline of important events and people.

Although memory care facilities offer some of the same amenities and options as a nursing home or assisted living community, it is clear that these facilities offer something different.  Similarly, the rooms are typically offered either private or shared, meals are often served family-style, and public entertainment areas, such as a library or TV room, are available.  Unlike others, memory care facilities don’t offer rooms with private kitchenettes, meals are often designed to accommodate appetite issues (common with memory-loss conditions), and activities are specifically intended to help seniors reconnect and remain connected to memories, hobbies, and preferences.

When deciding what level of care is needed is it important to consider the responsibilities necessary for comfortable living: transportation, meal preparation, housekeeping, medication management, and personal hygiene.  Often times, memory care facilities are more expensive than assisted living facilities however many assisted living communities have begun to offer memory care services.  Although less intensive, these communities can assist seniors with moderate memory loss.  Those with a tendency to wander or get lost may want to consider facilities with high security and frequent safety checks.  Additionally, many facilities offer services to help transition into the community, such as preparing the room before arrival, transporting them to the facility, and helping maintain anxiety or concern about living in a new place.

Read more about Alzheimer’s and dementia on the blog.

The Growing Trend of Homecare Nationally


This guest post is contributed by Shelly Sun, CEO and co-founder of BrightStar Care®, a premium healthcare staffing company providing the full continuum of care, from private homecare to people of all ages, to supplemental staffing for medical facilities, including hospitals, independent/assisted living facilities and doctors’ offices.

The aging population is growing rapidly: Roughly 10,000 baby boomers are becoming seniors each day. By 2015, those over 50 will represent 45 percent of the U.S. population, which means that there is an ever-increasing demand for businesses that cater to senior citizens.

Every year, more and more senior citizens decide to “age in place,” a trend that allows them to age comfortably within the familiar surroundings of their own homes. And according to a recent survey by AARP, nearly all adults over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes as they age.

In addition, many nurses across the nation are looking for alternative career options to working in a hospital. In-home healthcare agencies allow nurses the opportunity to utilize their skill sets in an unconventional sector of the industry. This career path also provides flexible work hours and offers nurses the ability to develop strong, personal relationships with patients.

The high demand stemming from seniors aging in place, coupled with the fact that the in-home nursing profession offers an alternative, rewarding job within the healthcare industry, is driving the demand for high-quality, professional homecare throughout the nation.

My name is Shelly Sun and I am the co-founder and CEO of BrightStar Care, a full-service home care franchise that provides both medical and non-medical care to people of all ages —from infants to elders. Our more than 250 offices across the country employ more than 16,000 certified nursing assistants, home health aides, and nurses — including 2,000 registered nurses, 2,300 Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs).

My husband JD and I founded BrightStar Care in 2002 after having tremendous difficulty finding high-quality home healthcare for my husband’s grandmother. Today, there are many more options available to families in need of outside assistance and the total number of options will only continue to grow. As a matter of fact, according to the latest projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 581,500 new nursing positions will be created through 2018 (a 22.2% increase).

Whether it is recently graduated nursing students or people that have been working in offices or hospitals for many years who are looking for a career change, in-home healthcare is becoming a lucrative and rewarding career option. Families with sick or aging loved ones can now find home care agencies that offer caregiving and companionship services, as well as high-level medical care, too — like infusion therapy, hospice assistance, pediatric nursing, and physical therapy. An agency like BrightStar Care will work with a family to assess the care needs of their loved one to ensure they feel safe, healthy, empowered, respected and comfortable.

While you may not know right away exactly which type of care your loved one needs, one thing is certain: with the recent growth within the industry, the right choice for your loved one is out there — all you have to do is find it.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow: Navigating the Hearing Aid Market


By Drew Cobb

The hearing aid market is a confusing place. From the variety of hearing aid styles to the oft-exorbitant prices, it can be difficult to know how to proceed. Whether you have already bought hearing aids in the past or are new to the experience, the following tips will help you navigate your way to better hearing.

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Assisted Living: Just Like Home

Helping loved ones make a smooth transition into an assisted living can be an emotional experience for everyone involved. In this article, we’ll talk about a few ways to make it more comfortable for everyone.

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What Type of Senior Care is Right

When families reach out to our Care Advisors while searching for senior living options, one of the most frequently asked questions is “what type of care does my loved one really need?” Choosing between assisted living, memory care, nursing home care, independent living or home care can be an overwhelming process and we’re here to help! We’ve highlighted a few scenarios and paired them with the appropriate type of senior care is.

For FREE help locating senior living in your local area call (877) 345-1706.

Q. My dad has been forgetful lately. I’ve taken him to the doctor’s office and the doctor said he has early onset dementia. I’d like for him to be surrounded by other seniors, but I don’t think that he’s ready to live in a memory care community since he is in the very early stages. What type of senior living is right for him?

A. In this case, one of the best choices would to be to find a senior living community that offers both assisted living and memory care. These communities will allow him to move into the assisted living part of the community and when the dementia or Alzheimer’s disease progresses, he can be moved to the memory care units which will provide specialized care for his dementia.

Request additional information about assisted living communities that offer memory care

Q. My family thinks that it’s time to move my Aunt into a nursing home because none of us has enough time to care for her around the clock. She can’t cook on her own and needs help doing laundry and a few other daily activities, but I don’t think she needs nursing care. Are there any other options that would help her with the daily activities she needs assistance with, without moving her to a nursing home?

A. Assisted living was designed for this specific reason. Before the early 1990’s family members that couldn’t care for their elderly loved ones had no option other than nursing home care. That is when assisted living facilities started to pop up around the country. Assisted living communities provide three meals a day with snacks throughout the day for its residents so they do not have to worry about cooking. They also provide light housekeeping services that are typically included in the monthly rent, including laundry. Assisted living will also be a less expensive option and since she sounds as though she is still mostly independent, this is a great option to look into.

Request additional information about assisted living communities near you

Q. I work full time and my mother needs more attention than I can afford to give her during the day while I’m at work. I have a daughter who is in high school and my husband works full time as well and the rest of my close family members live out of state. The amount of care my mom needs during the day makes me worried about leaving her home along for too long, but no one else is in the house consistantly enough to help her. Should I look into assisted living or is home care a better option?

A. Although assisted living is a good option, needing her to be cared for only a few hours of the day while no one is home might be better accommodated for with in-home senior care. Depending on the  home care company, a caregiver can come into the home anywhere between a few hours a day to staying there around the clock with your mom. It sounds like hiring an in-home caregiver for eight or less hours a day is exactly what you need. This will still allow you to care for your mother when you get home from work and on your days off, you can make the caregiver’s schedule to fill in those holes. Keep assisted living in mind though because that might be a better alternative down the road if your mom’s needs every increase.

Request additional information about in-home care companies or assisted living

Q. After retirement, my parents moved to Florida. Recently, my dad has been falling more often and might need care soon, which might be too difficult for my mom to provide on her own. My mom is really active still and doesn’t want to be stuck in a nursing home or assisted living community being the only active person there. What senior care options do we have to provide the lifestyle mom wants and the care dad needs?

A. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) are senior living communities that provide all the different levels of senior care all in one place. Your mom can move into the independent living part of the community and continue to be the primary caregiver to your father until he does need additional care. Most residents at CCRCs enter at the independent living level and then age in place by receiving the elevated amount of care that is necessary. This way your mom will be surrounded by active seniors and your dad can get the care he needs down the road.

Request information about CCRCs near you

As you can see there are many different options for receiving senior care. Since none of us age at the same rate, finding a senior living community that will provide multiple levels of care is a great way to ease the transition into senior living or allow spouses to stay together even if one require more care than the other.

SeniorLiving.Net is a FREE referral source for families that are looking for senior care. If you are still unsure about what level of senior care is appropriate for your loved one, or would like to start researching senior living communities in your area, call (877) 345-1706.

Five Benefits of Independent Living

With the tough economy and the lack of properly saving for retirement, many seniors may not even consider moving to a retirement community or independent living facility, but there are some factors to consider that might change their minds.

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Independent Living Activities and Events

Independent living is a type of senior care that provides a community of seniors typically over the age of 60. The residents that live at an independent living community are still very active, but don’t want the worry of yard-work, maintenance or any of the other responsibilities of owning your own home. Independent living, also called retirement living, is a great alternative.

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