The number of elders living in nursing homes is actually declining, due in part to businesses such as mine which provide homecare assistance for seniors. But at a certain stage of life, the medical attention and care provided by a nursing home may be the best living environment for frail and aging seniors.

Many elderly are using home care and assisted living services first, and then entering the nursing home at an older age with more care needed. This has required an adjustment at nursing homes in terms of the actual care being provided. Today’s seniors (and their families) are used to receiving personal care on an individualized basis, designed to meet their personal needs. This is causing nursing homes to increase staffing levels, and focus on the quality of life as well as the quality of care.

Families shopping for nursing home facilities should be alert to some of the following conditions:

— Does the facility have a reputation for infections amongst residents? Never an easy task, but we expect our nursing facilities to provide strategies for the reduction and spread of infections among residents in their care.
— Is there a process for medication review? Keeping an updated health watch on elderly residents is important. Changes in metabolism, along with drug interactions, can compromise a resident’s well-being. Keep a watchful eye on prescriptions.
— Is the resident provided with social or physical stimulation? Enhancing and maintaining mobility as a part of daily care helps to maintain a person’s function, as well as physical and psychological well-being. Laying in bed all day does not.
— Is the resident in pain? Pain management can affect residents’ daily activities and quality of life, cause depression, sleeplessness, restlessness, decline in appetite and unintentional weight loss.
— Bed sores. A systematic approach to assessing and addressing residents’ risk and skin can reduce the incidence and severity of bed sores, thus avoiding pain, infection and other complications.

– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: ; or online at: