Comparing Nursing Home Options: 5 Important Factors

Making the decision to put a loved one into nursing home care is one that is never taken lightly. Not just any facility will do when it comes to the comfort of a family member. Reports of nursing home abuse and neglect are everywhere, and the question of how one nursing home compares to another is something on many people’s minds.

There are many different factors to consider when looking into a senior retirement home, and each must be weighed carefully against the others.

What Others Have to Say

Nothing is more telling of the quality your loved one will receive than the words of those who have experience in the particular facility. Talking to the other residents in assisted living homes will give an insight into the level of care and services that are provided. Staff and volunteers are also a good source of information since they are there often and have a working knowledge of policies and routines of daily life in the nursing home. Volunteers are especially helpful, as they have no paycheck to worry about and most likely wouldn’t be there if they didn’t agree with the quality of care being provided.

Daily Retirement Home Living

The daily life of the residents and how they will be affected by their new home is influenced by a variety of factors. Location determines whether other family members are able to visit often. The home should also reflect the personal desires of your loved one for either a rural or urban setting. Gardens, lawns, and other natural spots can be helpful for relaxing. Take note of the number of residents who are currently living there to see if the home is overcrowded. The food that is served is what your family member will be eating for several years, so it must be something that is both nutritious and agreeable to them. The staff-to-resident ratio should be high so there is always someone available if there is a need for help. The safety measures in place, the comfort of the rooms, and the cleanliness of the facility are all important aspects that will affect a loved one’s life on a daily basis.

Entertainment and Activities

You should look at the types and number of activities that are offered to occupy the residents’ time. Activities should be both indoor and outdoor to accommodate whatever all need. The presence of a dedicated activity director means that the residents receive things to do that are more in-line with their desires. The types of activities offered should match the interests of your loved one so they will enjoy themselves. If your family member has physical or mental disabilities, make sure that the caregivers will take the time to assist them so that they can participate in the activities.


The flexibility of a facility is important. Fewer restrictions in place makes residents feel like they have some control. The amount of control that your loved one has over their schedule and daily activities can be very important as well, depending on the person. Policies on visitation and whether a family member can be taken out on any given day or for a weekend trip should be in line with potential plans and needs.


Though not something you want to think about, costs are a huge factor in determining the quality of care your loved one will get. Nursing homes can be quite expensive and are getting more so every year. The average cost per year is $70,000 and the average stay for a resident is 2 ½ years. This can quickly become unmanageable for many people. Balancing the costs with the level of quality can be tricky, and each factor of importance should be compared to this cost to ensure that your loved one gets all that they need at a price that is not impossible to afford.

Ultimately, the decision may take quite some time to make. You should visit each home several times and observe the interactions between residents and staff to get a feel for the true atmosphere and level of care. Making a list of what is essential and what is not can help. Narrow the list down and let your family member share in the decision process to ensure that the correct choice is made.

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