Nursing Homes

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.


How the Hospitality Business Model Trend in Senior Care Benefits You


For several years now, independent senior living communities, assisted living communities. and even nursing homes have shifted toward a “hospitality” business model. The most successful senior living communities have always favored a “hospitality with healthcare” approach to building design, operations, amenities and activities. But today, the emphasis on hospitality has expanded in several areas. Let’s look at how these changes affect seniors entering these communities for the first time.

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Five Ways Location Affects Your Choice in a Senior Community


As the adage goes, in real estate, location is everything. And what’s choosing a senior community other than a real estate transaction? Whether you’re moving to an independent living retirement community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community, an assisted living facility or a nursing home, you’re choosing a place to live as much as you’re selected a community for the staff, the ambiance and the amenities.

That’s why location is one of the keys to choosing the right senior living community. Let’s explore some aspects of the location you’ll want to consider before making your move.

Activities in the Area
Are you an arts and culture type? Have you always wanted to live near the beach? (Or have you always lived by the beach and wouldn’t want it any other way?) Maybe a shopping mall is a necessity; after all, your mall walkers club is your daytime getaway and exercise all in one.

Whatever you need, look around the surrounding community and see if it’s offered. You’ll find senior communities in big cities, small towns and suburbs. You may want a place that’s close to your former house, that way the community is already familiar. Or maybe you want to move someplace new for a change.

Also ask about free transportation to areas you’ll want to visit. Even if you bring your car to the senior community now, a time may come in the future where you no longer want to drive.

As with any real estate endeavor, the better neighborhoods will command higher prices. Since you may be moving to a smaller apartment, though, you may be able to afford a better neighborhood than you would if you were buying a single family home. Don’t rule out your dream neighborhood because house prices are out of your range. And remember, part of your senior community living expenses may be tax deductible.

Proximity to Your Doctors
If you’re thinking of moving outside your community, but not relocating to a different state or region entirely, you may want to keep your current network of doctors. If so, you’ll want a place that’s not too far and, again, that transportation is available.

If you’re relocating, you’ll want to scope out doctors in the area. Fortunately, doctors tend to congregate near senior communities, so it’s likely you’ll get your choice of both GPs and specialists, including geriatric care specialists. Many senior communities even have their own on-site doctors or partnerships with area doctors who visit the community regularly.

Proximity to Friends and Relatives
Again, this is important to think about, if you already have a strong network of friends and relatives near your current home. If you don’t have friends and family nearby, you may have more options in senior communities, as you can look outside your current region. Don’t worry. You’ll make all new friends and staff members may quickly become like family members.

The Weather
Again, if you’re relocating to a different region, you’ll want to consider the weather. You may even talk to your doctor about climates that might be best for conditions such as emphysema, allergies, or arthritis. There’s a reason the southeastern and southern U.S. has a preponderance of beautiful senior communities … and your friends and relatives won’t mind the trip to visit you, either, especially if it lets them escape the snow.

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.

How Choosing a Senior Living Community Is Like Playing Candy Crush


It was the gaming app of the year for 2013, sparking dozens of articles about how you can apply those hours wasted well-spent playing candy crush to actually improve your life. We bet you never thought about how choosing a senior living community is just like playing Candy Crush. Well, minus the background music. Take a look at five thought processes you use in Candy Crush that can help you evaluate senior living options, too.

1. Seek Balance

On boards with Odus the Owl (the alternate dimension of Candy Crush) you must keep Odus from tipping over. He sits in the center of two different candies, and if you crush too many of one kind or the other, he falls over. It’s all about balance.

In your search for a senior community and especially a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), you want a facility that balances the needs of residents with their desire for continuing independence. This means care with dignity, activities to keep their mind stimulated, healthy meals, and desirable rooms.

As senior communities move toward a hospitality business model, residents’ standards rise. Fine décor and ambiance are just as important as the care residents receive should they need assisted living services.

2. Location Is Everything

The placement of candy counts for a lot when you are trying to get rid of all the jelly on the board or bring fruit down to the bottom. Sometimes, you can manipulate your surroundings, like lining up all the fruit in one column so you can send it all down in one shot. But often, the hand you are dealt is all you have.

When you’re choosing a senior community, it’s important to look at the community, itself, and evaluate how many amenities are available without even leaving the grounds. But the senior community’s location determines the price you’ll pay and what day trips may be available.

3. The People In Your Community Can Help Determine Your Success

How generous is your network of Candy Crush friends? And when do they play the game? The answers to these questions can mean waiting around for days for a ticket to pass to the next level, or getting the tickets and extra lives you need to advance quickly.

In a senior community, it’s not only the staff members, but the other residents who can make-or-break a nursing home, assisted living, or even independent retirement community experience. Ask yourself if these are people you want as caregivers and neighbors. Because, unlike in Candy Crush, you can’t just add more friends to get the help and support you need.

4. The Deeper Your Pockets, The Wider Your Options

Let’s be honest. In our experience here at, most nursing homes and assisted living communities meet certain standards of care. But there’s a broad range of amenities that may be available based on the price of a specific facility. While some seniors may be limited to certain nursing homes or assisted living facilities, those with more money to spend may opt for a Continuing Care Retirement Community, where they might pay more upfront but will have the option to age-in-place and receive the care they need if their level of independence changes.

In Candy Crush, it goes without saying. If you want to tap into paid options, you can buy boosts, extra moves, lives and more. But 70 percent of players who have reached the highest levels of the game have done so without spending a penny.

Similarly, you can find quality care in a retirement community even on a limited budget. You just need to choose carefully.

5. Ask For Help From Those Who Have Succeeded

Choosing a senior living community for yourself or a loved one can be a stressful process. Word-of-mouth can be a big help if you can ask friends and family for recommendations. A senior care manager is an expert who can help you, too. And, of course, simplifies the process of choosing a senior living community by letting you talk to a local Care Advisor without leaving your home.

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.

Therapeutic Hens Have Seniors Talking Turkey


“Having chickens in the backyard is like looking at the ocean,” says Terry Golson in an article published in the Boston Globe earlier this year.

Terry should know.

She’s been raising hens nearly all of her adult life, and recently introduced a group of them to Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley , a nursing home in Littleton, Massachusetts, with an abundance of memory care residents. Life Care Center now boasts a complete hen house. It’s animal therapy taken to a whole new level.

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The Role of a Service Plan in Senior Care


In senior living lingo, a service plan is a clear, concise guide of the services that will be provided to a senior in assisted living or nursing care, as well as their preferences, such as meal and entertainment preferences. The senior living community staff will use the service plan as a guide for all interactions with the senior.

If you had a birth plan when you were pregnant, you might remember that it detailed how, ideally, you wanted the birth to unfold. Of course, the plan could be re-assessed and changed at any time for yours and the baby’s welfare and safety.

Similarly, a senior care plan should be detailed but flexible, so it can change as the senior’s needs or preferences change.

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Choosing a Nursing Home: Sights, Sounds & Scents to Seek Out


Choosing a nursing home or assisted living facility can be scary. Will you make the right choice? Will the facility be clean? Will the care be up to par? How do you find out? Use all your senses on your first visit, and know the sights, sounds and yes, even scents, to look for, as well as knowing the ones that are big red flags.

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Three Forms of Insurance to Pay for Assisted Living or Nursing Care


Paying for long-term care or assisted living is a concern for many seniors. In a recent post, I discussed three ways to pay for long-term care or a nursing home stay. There are several ways you can use insurance to pay for long term care. Let’s dive a little deeper into using an insurance policy, either long-term care or life insurance, to cover assisted living or nursing home costs.

The Benefits of Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance is a policy, separate from whole or term life insurance, that can help cover the costs of assisted living or nursing home care when Medicare doesn’t cover these costs.

If you are not yet retired, long-term care insurance may be offered by your employer or you can purchase it privately. Like purchasing life insurance, it’s best to purchase long-term care insurance while you’re young and healthy because premiums will be lower. If you try to purchase a policy in your later years, you may be denied coverage because of your age or your health.

When you select a long-term care insurance policy, make sure it covers a variety of types of long-term care. Some long-term care insurance will only cover nursing home stays. You may want to look for a policy that will cover assisted living, adult day care, in-home care, and both skilled and unskilled care.

One of the benefits to a long-term care insurance policy is that it may reduce your tax liability today. If the policy is Tax-Qualified (TQ) you may be able to include some or all of the premiums as a medical deduction on your Federal income taxes.

Long-term care insurance has many variables. Choose carefully and make sure to buy long-term care insurance from a reputable company that will still be in business when you want to cash in your policy.

Also, keep in mind that if you don’t have a need for long-term care, you may lose the benefits and money you paid into it. The money may not be available to you or your heirs. Do your research amd look for a policy with a non-forfeiture benefit if this is a concern.

Using Accelerated Death Benefits to Pay for Senior Care
Accelerated Death Benefits (ADB) let you borrow against the death benefits of your life insurance policy to pay for senior care. Usually, the policy can only be used if you have a terminal illness or need nursing home or assisted living care permanently.

Even as you cash in an ADB policy, you must keep your life insurance policy current and continue to pay premiums. While an ADB benefit can be added to many life insurance policies for little or no cost, there are several drawbacks to using ADB over long-term care insurance. If you use ADB you may not be eligible for Medicare coverage. The amount of ADB coverage is typically lower than long-term care coverage, will not last as long, and it usually doesn’t offer inflation protection.

Nonetheless, adding ADB coverage to your life insurance policy, if you can do it at little to no cost, may be one option to pay for future nursing home or assisted living care.

Using a Life Settlement to Pay for Long-term Care
Some life insurance policies permit women over the age of 70 and men over the age of 74 to sell their current life insurance policy for its present value.

There are a few drawbacks to doing this:

  • There may be no money left for your heirs to cover funeral or burial costs.
  • The money from the sale of the policy is taxable.
  • Depending on the value of your policy, there may not be enough money left, after taxes, to cover the costs of your long-term care for as long as you need it.

If you can’t qualify for long-term care insurance or add an ADB to your life insurance policy, and your nursing home or assisted living stay is not covered by Medicare, this could be one option to pay for long-term care using insurance.

Planning ahead and consulting with a financial advisor to make the best decisions can reduce the risk of having to resort to “worst-case scenarios” to pay for long-term care.

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.


Pet Therapy for Seniors: How Dogs Bring a Nursing Home to Life


Walking the halls of a nursing home in Atlanta, Georgia, are a few unlikely visitors. Lisa Hoefinger and her friend Kathy, volunteers, look like they could be visiting an aging grandparent, but walking by their sides are two decidedly furrier companions.

It’s this couple, Lacey and Kensy, who get all the attention. The whole team is from Happy Tails Pet Therapy and “happy tails” (and more than a few “tales,” too) are what they are here to share. More often than not, it’s the nursing home residents who do the talking; Lacey, a golden retriever, and Kensy, a mixed breed who is a cross between a chow, leonberger and retriever, (“and looks like a stuffed toy,” according to his owner) are quite the conversation-starters.

Jumping in to Pet Therapy, Paws First
When Hoefinger first volunteered she and Kensy for pet therapy, she didn’t imagine visiting nursing homes. “Most volunteers have thoughts of visiting preschools or hospitals to help patients with rehab,” Hoefinger says.

After her first visit, though, she was sold on the idea. “Each visit is different and brings joy not only to the residents, but to me and Kensy,” she says, explaining that Kensy was a shelter dog who was pulled off “death row” and now lives to give back to others.

Hoefinger shares one story, which is indicative of the impact pet therapy makes on nursing home residents. “One gentleman we visited was a Vietnam veteran whose infantry used war dogs. He told us how they would use the dogs to stand watch at night. If an enemy approached, the dog would alert them and then be unleashed to see him out. Dogs would also sniff out poisonous snakes hidden in fox holes and trenches. Sometimes a visit is just about listening and letting someone share their life stories with us.”

Hoefinger notes that not a visit goes by when one of the residents doesn’t personally thank her and Kensy. In addition to the social aspects of visiting with the volunteers, petting the dogs has proven benefits of stress reduction, anxiety reduction, and lowered blood pressure.

“If there is an activities director consider pet therapy, I would let them know what a huge difference it could make in the lives of their residents. Just make sure the visit doesn’t take place when the residents are eating or playing bingo. Other than that, the volunteers are trained and know to check to make sure someone wants a visit before entering their room,” Lisa says.

Residents are never forced to visit with the animals. “We knock on the door and see if the person would like a visit. If so, we go in. Some folks just say hi, we ask how their feeling and we let them pet the dogs. Other folks really want to talk. In those cases, we might stay 20 minutes or more. Sometimes we’re the only visitor a person has to look forward to,” Hoefinger says.

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.


3 Ways to Pay for Assisted Living and Senior Care


Medicare sometimes covers nursing home stays for elderly residents if they meet certain requirements, including a need for skilled nursing care. But if you or a loved one opts for an Assisted Living Community or if you don’t qualify for Medicare to pay for your nursing home stay, you may have to pay out-of-pocket for all expenses.

There are a few ways to do this. Not all of these options will work for everyone, as some people may not have the resources available. No matter your age, the time to start planning for long-term care is now. Let’s look at a few options to pay for senior living care.

Private Insurance
Whether it’s cashing in a whole life insurance policy to using a long-term care insurance policy you’ve paid into, private insurance has become a popular option to pay for long-term care.

If you have a whole life insurance policy, you can cash it in at any time. There may be some tax penalties or early withdrawal penalties associated. The benefit is that, if your life insurance policy is large enough, you won’t have financial worries about how to pay for your long-term care, and you won’t have to dip into other accounts, like savings or retirement. But this means there won’t be any life insurance funds available for your heirs. Make sure you have enough in savings to cover the costs of funeral, burial or memorial services you desire when you pass, so that your loved ones won’t be burdened with these costs.

On the other hand, long-term care insurance, which is a separate from life insurance, can be cashed in to pay for assisted living costs at any time. Tax Qualified (TQ) long-term care policies count as a medical tax deduction when you file income tax, and the money you receive when you cash in the policy typically is not taxable, either, making this a desirable choice for many people.

Home Equity
If you still own your own home and your mortgage is paid off, a reverse mortgage could be an option to cover long-term care costs. First, make sure your home equity will cover assisted living costs for a reasonable length of time. It’s not worth it to take out a reverse mortgage if the money will only cover your stay for a few months.

Reverse mortgages have several drawbacks and are typically a last resort when few other options are available. If you outlive the reverse mortgage, you will have to pay it back, which could mean selling the home. You still own your home, so you’re responsibility for maintenance and income taxes. When you die, your estate pays back the reverse mortgage, leaving less money for your heirs.

If you’re looking into a reverse mortgage, consider, instead, selling your home and using that money to pay for long-term care, unless there’s a compelling reason to keep your home in the family, and you or your family has the means to pay back the mortgage at the end of the term.

Government Assistance
Some seniors choose to “spend down” their assets in order to qualify for Medicaid to pay for long-term care. If you do the research, you may find other forms of government assistance, as well. For instance, veterans can get long-term care in VA facilities. The drawback is that their may not be one near your home, or there could be a waiting list.

The Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is a new program that combines Medicare and Medicaid benefits to pay for long-term care. However, the program only applies to in-home care, not care in assisted living communities.

Veterans Pension Benefit

The Aid and Attendance pension benefit can help both senior veterans and their spouses pay for senior care. There are some eligibility requirements. To best help you figure out if you may be eligible take this free Aid and Attendance eligibility quiz.

And for more information on the Aid and Attendance benefit visit

Preparing to Pay for Long-Term Care
The best scenario is to have money set aside in investments to pay for long-term care. Personal savings, retirement accounts, and other investment funds can be used to cover long-term care, and you may be able to deduct the cost of long-term care if you itemize medical expenses. With a little bit of early planning, you might be surprised to discover you can afford assisted living, especially if you choose an assisted living community that offers all the services and amenities you need included, so that all your living expenses are covered in one payment.


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