How can I find a good nursing home for my mom?

The decision to move a parent or another loved one to a nursing home in Alabama is not an easy one; it can be quite emotional for the entire family. As hard as the decision may be, it is likely to be much easier than finding the right nursing home, however. You want to find a place that is safe and clean, with staff who will take good care of your parent.

The American Association of Retired Persons offers a variety of things to consider in making your decision. Keep in mind that staff members come and go, so you need to be vigilant even after placing your parent to ensure they are in a good environment. Keep the following things in mind.

Make a point to each a meal there and taste for yourself what’s on the menu. If not restricted to a special diet, speak with the staff about spicing things up a little. Food can be healthy and meet one’s nutritional needs, but that doesn’t mean it tastes good, and it does no good at all if it is inedible.

You have to expect some unpleasant odors in such places. Medications and certain foods may give them gas, and they may be losing control of their bowels and bladder. If you notice, however, that there is always a pervasive smell of urine, you should question the home’s cleanliness.

Are patients engaged in activities or left on their own during the day? A good home should try to engage residents and not get them out of their rooms. People need interaction with others and activities can make them feel more productive.

Bruising may occur more in older people due to medication or tender skin, but it can also be a sign of abuse. Look for finger-shaped bruising on the upper arms from being grabbed, along with marks on the face and stomach. If the back is bruised, it may be a sign of a fall.

Bedsores may be inevitable as people grow frail but always investigate. If your parent is ambulatory, ask the staff to get him or her out of bed more often and for longer periods. If bedridden, ask how often staff rotates the patient or check the charts.

If you are unhappy with the care your parent receives, speak with the floor supervisor; if that doesn’t resolve the issue, move up the chain of command to the home's director if you must. The next step is to file a complaint with the Alabama Dept. of Public Health, which oversees nursing homes.

This is general information on nursing homes. It is not meant to be legal advice.

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