If you’re an adult child of an aging parent in Pennsylvania, you are among many others in this state and beyond who often encounter challenges as they do their best to help their parents enjoy the highest quality of life possible while they live out their golden years. A time may come when you and your parent determine a need for him or her to move into a nursing home.

Thinking of your parent reaching this point in life can be emotionally upsetting. Perhaps he or she has lived in the same house since you were a child and you simply can’t imagine him or her living elsewhere. It is not uncommon to feel sorrow, worry or anxiety as you start to research nursing homes in your area to try to find one that fits your parent’s needs and long-term care planning goals.

Keep this checklist in mind

There are several things to remember when you’re visiting nursing homes to try to find one that would be a good place for your parent to live. First of all, there is no such thing as a perfect nursing home. The following list includes ideas that can help you determine which types of residences might be good fits for your loved one:

  • Firsthand contact: To get a good feel for what your parent would experience while living in a particular nursing home, it’s a good idea to call on several occasions to speak to staff members by phone. It’s also wise to make impromptu visits to the facility you might be considering, to observe how officials and staff members act and how residents seem to relate to them and to each other.
  • Ask around: Word-of-mouth is definitely a valuable customer service tool. If you speak to other adult children or to residents themselves and receive consistently negative feedback, it might be a sign that you should continue your search for a nursing home elsewhere.
  • Your parent’s needs and goals: If your parent has special mental or physical health needs, you’ll want to make sure the facility you have in mind is fully equipped to address those needs. Other issues, such as how socially active your parent wants to be, dietary needs or restrictions, religious preferences and regulations regarding visiting hours are also factors that may influence your choice of nursing homes.

At some point, you’ll likely want to meet with the nursing home director and also the nursing director. Red flags during such a visit might be unpleasant odors throughout a facility for which the director does not provide an adequate explanation, lack of handicap access, no Medicaid or Medicare certification, or residents who appear neglected. If a legal issue arises as you help your parent transition, an attorney experienced in nursing home negligence can be a strong source of support.