4 Questions to Ask When Choosing a 24-Hour Nursing Facility

Dementia and other neurological conditions make it difficult for senior citizens to live alone, as they can impair memory and make it difficult to perform everyday tasks. Unfortunately, not all senior citizens have family members who can provide ongoing care should they need help preparing meals, managing chronic medical conditions, and performing household chores. For some seniors, 24-hour nursing care is the best option, as a 24-hour facility has experienced staff members on hand to provide medical care, help with personal hygiene, and ensure that a senior's social needs are met. If you are looking for a 24-hour nursing center for your loved one, here are four questions to ask during your tour.

1. How does your facility ensure that each resident's nutritional needs are met?

Senior citizens have specific nutritional needs, such as the need to consume more calcium and vitamin D to preserve good bone health. Many senior citizens also have chronic medical conditions that require diet modifications. Examples include diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol. The facility you choose should have a plan in place to ensure that your loved one receives nutritious meals and snacks that have the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. In addition to holding regularly scheduled meal times, a good facility should make snacks available throughout the day. When you visit a nursing center, don't be afraid to ask if you can visit the dining room during your visit. If you go to the dining room, you should see a variety of foods presented in an appetizing manner.

2. How closely do you work with family members to plan each resident's care?

The best facilities encourage family members to visit regularly and make suggestions regarding their loved ones' care. Asking this question can help you determine if the nursing center is open to hearing your feedback and making changes based on your input. During your visit, ask how family members can communicate with staff members. Do you have to leave a phone message and wait for someone to call you back, or can you send an email or make an appointment with one of the administrators? 

3. What services are available for helping residents maintain strong social connections?

Just because some people require ongoing nursing care does not mean they no longer need regular social interaction. The facility you choose should provide plenty of opportunities for residents to make new friends and maintain existing social connections. When you visit, ask your tour guide to tell you about some of the activities available for residents. If your loved one is well enough to leave the facility for social outings, find out if the nursing center arranges off-site activities and provides transportation.

4. What steps do you take to keep residents safe?

Safety is of utmost concern for any senior citizen moving into a 24-hour nursing care center. Don't be afraid to ask your tour guide how the facility protects its residents. The best facilities monitor staff members closely, conduct thorough background checks on all candidates for employment, and have safeguards in place to prevent residents from leaving the premises without supervision. When you visit, look around the facility to see if there are any obvious safety issues. If the hallways are cluttered and you don't see any staff members keeping an eye on things, you may want to continue your search for a nursing center.

If your loved one needs around-the-clock care, a 24-hour nursing facility may be the best place to get it. You can ensure your loved one's safety and happiness by visiting several facilities and asking these important questions before you decide which facility will do the best job of meeting your family's needs.