Choosing the Right Retirement Home: Do Your Homework!

Although many of us do not wish to move into a retirement home or nursing home, the reality is that many Americans end up there anyway. According to the CDC, there are 15,600 nursing homes in the U.S. with 1.7 million beds. People over the age of 65 will account for roughly 25% of the U.S. Population in a few short years. Leaving fewer and fewer open beds.

Further, few people ever relocate nursing homes after moving in. As such, taking the time to find the right nursing home ahead of a life-changing event is critical. Today, we will discuss a few rules of thumb when it comes to choosing the right nursing home.

  • Location, Location, Location. Not only is our quality of life better when our family visits, but so is our quality of care. If the facility knows that someone is paying attention, they may make an extra effort to provide superior care. Visits are also the high point in our lives. Make it easy for family and friends to drop by in person.


  • Take a Tour. Like our homes, nursing homes are all built differently, with different bells and whistles. While it is important to feel at home, do not let all the bells and whistles drive your decision. What really matters is the quality of care the home provides. Observe how the staff interacts with other residents and with each other. Also, be sure to have a meal with the residents. Not only will you brighten someone’s day, but you also will have the opportunity to check out the food. Let’s face it, good food matters.


  • Talk to the Care Providers. Visit with people actually responsible for care, not just marketing. Talk with staff members and administrators in different areas. Find out what they do and how they serve their residents. Ask them how they handle concerns from family members and difficult health situations.


  • Talk to the Family Members.  If you do not know anyone with a loved one in the nursing home, ask for names of family members of current residents. You want to ask others how they perceive the care their loved one receives and how receptive (and responsive) the nursing home is to any concerns that are raised.


  •  Check Out Their Ranking.  Visit to view the certifications and performance comparisons among nursing homes you are considering. The ratings are based on quality measures, nurse staffing levels, and health inspection reports. The comparison charts also guide you to asking the right questions on your tour.
Brooke Swier Schloss
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Family Law and Estate Planning attorney helping families across South Dakota plan and protect their loved ones