Consider services, medical care when choosing a nursing home

Consider services, medical care when choosing a nursing home
A young women gives a manicure to an elderly woman.

A young women gives a manicure to an elderly woman.

Angie’s List member Carol Dennis says the quality of care made all the difference when she decided to take her mother to the Alzheimer’s unit at Imperial, a highly rated Chicago nursing home.

“The staff was extremely well trained and the administration was very helpful. They have nurses on duty at all times and the aides are very well trained, gentle, and kind with the patients,” she says.

Dennis says the facility's high-quality medical care helped her make a very difficult decision - placing a parent in a nursing home.

Elderly people may require extra care as they age and start to have trouble living independently. Daily activities like walking out to the mailbox or driving to the pharmacy can become increasingly dangerous for aging seniors.

If you're thinking about making the difficult decision of talking to your parents about moving to a nursing home, it’s important to consider the type of care the facility offers, as well as additional services and social activities it provides.

Types of care

The level of care offered by nursing homes differs from facility to facility. Many provide several options like assisted living, independent living and intensive care. Some residents will begin their stay in the independent living section and transfer to a different level if needed.

Independent living allows residents to live with minimal assistance from the nursing home. They can come and go as they please, but still take advantage of the home for meals, house cleaning, laundry services and medical care.

Assisted living is ideal for people who have trouble living independently, but don’t require medical care 24 hours a day. The resident may have meals prepared; receive assistance with taking medications, bathing and house cleaning.

Residents receive the highest level of supervision and assistance in intensive care. It's reserved for residents who are no longer able to take care of themselves due to physical or mental impairment. The residents in intensive care can rely on the nursing home to provide meals, rehabilitation services, house cleaning, assistance with bathing and constant health monitoring. Intensive care can also be a temporary place for rehabilitation after surgery or a hospital procedure.


Nursing homes offer a wide variety of services that can help seniors live safely and put worried family members at ease. The most important service is direct and immediate access to medical professionals and facilities. The nursing home should always have trained medical personnel on staff, and provide transportation to offsite appointments with doctors and specialists.

Angie’s List member Diane Masuda says she took her mother to highly rated Querencia at Barton Creek, a nursing home in Austin, Texas, because of its spa-like atmosphere and personalized medical care. “The staff was very caring and they worked personally with me,” she says. “Their support and advice about caring for my mother was informative and supportive.”

One way to gage the quality of a nursing home’s services is to arrange for a tour of the facility. You should ask about transportation services, meal options and how the facility handles overall patient wellness.

Angie’s List member Alice Strong says she took her father to highly rated St. Francis Nursing Home because of the excellent meal plan. “They make all the food from scratch; it’s home-cooked style food. They even order organically-grown turkeys for Thanksgiving,” she says of the San Antonio nursing home.


Nursing homes offer onsite activities to provide residents with a safe and convenient way to engage in hobbies and stay social while living at the facility. Allowing residents to choose from a variety of activities that are catered to their needs and interests can help residents feel at home. Some examples of nursing home activities include book clubs, card games, nature walks, films, holiday parties, birthday celebrations and offsite daytrips to shopping centers and tourist attractions.

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