Nursing Homes: The Definitive Guide

Nursing Homes Guide

As seniors age and lose independence, their families may face difficult decisions regarding their loved one’s care. One of these decisions is whether to move their aging loved one into a nursing home, a senior care facility offering round-the-clock care and medical attention. 

Deciding whether a nursing home is right for you or a loved one requires thorough thinking and researching. 

To help you in this process, we’ve created a guide to help you navigate everything you need to know about nursing homes before making a decision.

What Is A Nursing Home?

According to the National Institute on Aging, nursing homes are places for people who don’t need to be in hospitals but can’t be cared for at home. Nursing assistants and experienced nurses are typically on duty around-the-clock in nursing facilities.

Some nursing homes have a hospital-like layout. Physical, speech and occupational therapy are all provided by the personnel. Each floor might have a nurse’s station. Some nursing facilities make an effort to resemble homes more. They make an effort to feel neighborhood-like. They frequently need to follow a set daily schedule, and residents may have access to the kitchen. A staff member’s ability to connect with residents is encouraged.

Some nursing facilities include specialized care areas for residents with memory disorders like Alzheimer’s. Some people let couples cohabitate. Nursing homes are available for everyone who needs round-the-clock care, not just older adults.

The Importance Of Nursing Homes

Facilities for nursing and residential care are crucial because they help older persons with physical and mental impairments live happier lives. They play a significant role in addressing the state’s problems with wellness care by providing those in need with high-acuity, long-term, transitional care that is of high quality and efficiency.

To provide better focus and integrated care to address chronic cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, nursing facilities have important roles to play in improving care across all structures and establishing connections among family care providers, primary care physicians, nurses, and hospital-related care.

Nursing homes often provide social activities, meals, transportation, and other services and amenities. These programs make it feasible for elders to live as independently as possible.

Advantages and Disadvantages Of Nursing Homes

Nursing facilities are the subject of many myths. Some individuals think they are just for the terminally ill or those incapable of caring for themselves. However, this is not the case because it also has benefits that make it a great choice for other seniors.

Advantages Of Nursing Homes

  • The availability of excellent support and care at all times. You may be confident that your loved one is always being looked after because nurses and other professionals are on duty around the clock.
  • A setting that is secure and safe. Considering how well-secured nursing homes are generally, you may feel more at ease knowing that your loved one is in capable care.
  • There are several social possibilities and activities. Nursing facilities frequently feature active social schedules that can keep your loved one entertained and involved all day.
  • Access to first-rate medical care can be a terrific option for senior citizens who require assistance but don’t want to reside in a hospital or assisted living home.

Disadvantages Of Nursing Homes

  • Most insurance policies do not cover the high cost of nursing home care. You’ll likely be responsible for covering all out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Nursing facilities have a reputation for isolating people. Residents may feel isolated from their loved ones and the outside world.
  • Because of allegations of abuse and neglect, nursing facilities may have a bad reputation.

Things You Should Know About Nursing Homes 

Nursing Home: An Overview

Before deciding whether the nursing home is the right place for you or your loved one, you must have a solid understanding of the basics of a nursing home. 

Check for facts, stats, testimonials, and reviews. Learn about the care options you may have and what services can be provided to you. 

Determining the common reasons for nursing home transitions among seniors can also help you relate to and compare whether these reasons and circumstances apply to you, which can help with your decision.

What To Expect From Nursing Homes

Finding out what a good care home looks like can help you choose your care. It can also help you understand what you should be able to expect from a service you already use and what rights you have under the care of nursing home facilities.

It is also important to learn about patients’ usual concerns in nursing homes so you can ask yourself if you have the resources to address them or better prepare yourself if you decide to move into one. 

When To Consider A Nursing Home

After researching and learning anything there is to know about nursing homes, your next step should be deciding whether a nursing home facility is an ideal choice for you or your loved one. 

Deciding whether or not your loved one needs to move to a nursing home can feel overwhelming. Hence, it is important to know when to consider a nursing home as an option to help you and your family better prepare for the transition.

Moving Into a Nursing Home: The Ultimate Guide

After making a decision, your next step should be planning how to move into a nursing home. Strategizing your move into a nursing facility is a very crucial process since there are a lot of things that you’ll need to prepare and settle. 

Since it also involves being away from home and family, you may need more than just physical and financial preparations. You will also have to emotionally prepare yourself and your family to say that you are fully prepared for your decision.

Paying for Nursing Home and Other Long-term Care

Nursing homes can be very expensive. The exact cost varies depending on several factors like room type or location. In the U.S., the average cost for a semi-private room can amount to $7,908 per month, while a private room costs $9,034 per month, according to a Genworth Cost of Care Survey

Hence, planning your nursing home finances is also crucial if you plan to age in a nursing home. Several ways to pay for nursing home costs include long-term care insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, and VA benefits.

Ways To Make Residents Feel At Home In Nursing Homes

A time may come when long-term care is necessary for you or your loved one, and moving to a long-term care community can be emotionally difficult.

Moving can be overwhelming and makes you sad from the fear that it may not feel as comfortable as your home. 

However, from personalizing and decorating to making new friends and participating in activities, there are many ways to make nursing home facilities feel like home. 

Here’s how:

Personalize Your Room

One of the first things individuals look for in a strange and new environment is something that makes them feel at home. Fortunately, you or a loved one already have numerous items that can be used for this, including furniture, pillows, bedspreads, decorations, clothing, and photo albums.

If feasible, prepare the space before you or a loved one moves in. Not only will this reduce some of the stress associated with moving day, but it may also make it simpler for you or a loved one to get settled and feel at home.

Build Relationships

What makes a place feel like home isn’t always the material things. Try to foster relationships by making new friends. After all, having someone you can talk to and relate with during your stay in a nursing home can help you feel included and less isolated. 

Get Involved

Try to engage in community events, join clubs, and dine in dining halls to interact with other residents to make you feel more belonged and connected. Nursing homes offer a variety of activities and services to assist residents in keeping active and meeting new people.

Where To Get Help? The Common Resources For Seniors

If a time comes when you or your loved ones need to move into a nursing home, you will need a lot of support and resources to help you settle successfully and safely.

Knowing what resources are available to you and how you may access them is crucial and a great advantage to making your stay comfortable and safe.

Here’s a list of some resources for seniors in a nursing home, according to the Nursing Home Abuse Center :

Resources For Nursing Home Searching

Nursing Home Compare

The United States developed it. People can compare nursing facilities in their area with the aid of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Resources for Veterans in Nursing Homes

VA Health Care

Veterans can access top-notch medical care through the Veterans Health Administration as they age.

Veteran-Specific Nursing Homes

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) built these nursing homes expressly to serve senior veterans. Numerous nursing homes are linked with the VA all around the country. 

Other VA Benefits

Veterans who require assistance with daily living (aid and attendance) or are housebound due to a disability may be eligible for a higher VA pension.

Veterans and their families can learn more about specific resources and benefits by visiting the official VA website.

Resources for LGBTQ+ Residents

SAGE: This group fights for the rights of older citizens who identify as LGBTQ+ across the country. Additionally, it operates the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, which connects seniors with local and national services.

The National LGBTQ Task Force: This national advocacy organization encourages people to take action by bringing attention to the problems of LGBTQ+ seniors throughout the nation.

Resources for Women in Nursing Homes

The Office on Women’s Health: This government organization offers information about various forms of abuse, violence, and secure relationships. Women can also phone the agency’s abuse resource hotline to choose their next steps.

Women Against Abuse: This group provides a multitude of information for people in need of assistance and assists women of all ages in recovering from abuse.

You may also check the CMS Nursing Home Resource Center’s website for more nursing home patient resources. 


Nursing homes can sometimes look frightening and gloomy. Moving into one can make people feel betrayed and unsuccessful. Hence, helping the elderly adjust to a new living situation requires family support.

Contrary to popular belief, families do not leave their cherished members in nursing facilities. In reality, only a small percentage of nursing home residents are truly orphans. Regular visits from family members are encouraged, as is participation in all aspects of an elderly relative’s care. 

Preparing and thoroughly planning your move into a nursing home is also a very important process to make your transition to nursing home life successful and comfortable.

It can be a very timely and emotional process but always know that you are not alone in it and that help may be available to you if you know where to find it. 


How long does the average person stay in a nursing home?

The average length of stay in nursing homes is rather short. Twenty-five percent of those who enter these facilities stay there for a short period (3 months or less). Numerous residents who stay just briefly are originally admitted to the nursing home for therapy or end-of-life care.

About half of residents stay there for at least a year, and 21% stay for almost five years. It’s interesting to note that the function first improves for many residents who stay longer.

Who should I contact if I have questions or concerns about my care?

First, consider speaking with a nursing home staff member directly if you have concerns about either your care or the care of a family member.

You can also speak with the facility’s administrator, director of nursing, medical director, or doctor about any issues you may have.

Who can receive information and make decisions about me? What if I can’t make decisions on my own? 

Unless a physician or a judge has concluded that you are incapable of making or communicating health care decisions, you are in charge of your care while residing in a nursing home.

If you agree, they may access your private health information and attend care planning sessions, or if you cannot make decisions for yourself, family members or friends may be included.

What if I need to be transferred to the hospital? 

In these cases, the nursing home will inform you and your family that hospital care is being advised, go over possible alternatives to hospitalization, and, if necessary, arrange for your ambulance transportation to the hospital.

Your family may be informed of an emergency after you’ve been taken to the hospital. 

What if the nursing home wants to transfer me to another unit or facility?

Unless the circumstance poses an imminent risk to your health or safety, the nursing home should address this with you or a family member in advance.