Aug 23, 2023

What is a nursing home?

Manny Cominsky

As our loved ones age, their care needs may become more complex, requiring specialized attention and medical support. Nursing homes play a vital role in providing round-the-clock care for older adults who require comprehensive assistance. In this article, we will explore the purpose and significance of nursing homes, the types of residents they serve, the services they offer, and the factors to consider when choosing the right facility for your loved one. =

What are Nursing Homes?

Nursing homes are residential care facilities that offer a high level of medical care, assistance with daily activities, and supervision to older adults with significant health conditions or disabilities. Unlike other senior living options, nursing homes are equipped to provide intensive medical care and support, making them suitable for individuals with chronic illnesses, severe health conditions, or those recovering from surgeries or severe illnesses.

Different Types of Nursing Homes

Nursing homes can vary in their structure and approach to care. Some facilities are designed to resemble hospitals, with dedicated nursing staff available round-the-clock and specialized medical services. These types of nursing homes are well-suited for individuals who require advanced medical care and therapies. For seniors who require a lesser degree of daily medical care, there are nursing homes that provide a more homelike environment, with a neighborhood feel and open kitchens where residents can enjoy meals. 

Who Needs Nursing Home Care?

Determining the need for nursing home care depends on the level of assistance and medical attention a senior requires. Older adults who cannot be adequately cared for at home due to significant physical or mental health issues, or those who need assistance with multiple daily activities, are often ideal candidates for nursing homes. For example, this may include a senior struggling with cognitive impairment who requires constant supervision and specialized care that is challenging to provide at home. In such cases, a nursing home offers a safe and nurturing environment where their needs can be met.

Reasons for Choosing a Nursing Home

People choose nursing homes for various reasons, depending on their specific circumstances and care needs. Here are a few common scenarios:

Short-term Skilled Care: Approximately 20% of nursing home residents stay for three months or less, receiving skilled nursing care or rehabilitation services for a temporary period. This could include individuals who have recently been hospitalized due to an infection or other illness, those in need of post-surgery rehabilitation, or individuals requiring end-of-life care.

Long-term Care Needs: Some individuals have long-term disabilities and require ongoing skilled nursing care that cannot be adequately provided in their own homes. For example, a person who has experienced a stroke may need assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, or eating, that cannot be managed independently.

Around-the-Clock Supervision: Individuals with cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer's disease, or severe mental health conditions may require constant supervision to ensure their safety and well-being. Nursing homes equipped with specialized memory care units can provide the necessary support and ensure the individual's needs are met.

Memory Care: Dementia and certain mental health conditions can lead to a dependence on others for daily reminders and assistance. Nursing homes offering memory care services can provide the supervision and support needed for individuals with memory-related challenges, along with specialized care to address difficult behaviors and communication issues.

It is important to note that individuals may have multiple care needs, and nursing homes can accommodate various combinations of medical, custodial, and memory care services to meet those needs effectively.

The Benefits of Nursing Home Care

Nursing homes offer a range of benefits that make them a valuable option for seniors requiring specialized care. Some of these benefits include:

Access to 24/7 Professional Care

One of the primary benefits of nursing homes is the availability of round-the-clock professional care. Skilled nursing staff, including nurses and aides, are present at all times to ensure residents' safety, attend to their medical needs, and provide prompt assistance in case of emergencies. This constant presence of trained professionals offers peace of mind to both residents and their families, knowing that help is readily available whenever required.

Comprehensive Medical Services

Nursing homes provide a wide range of medical services, similar to those found in hospitals, ensuring that residents receive the necessary care to manage their health conditions effectively. Skilled nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy are some of the services available on-site depending on the particular nursing home. This comprehensive approach to healthcare allows for the delivery of medical procedures and therapies that may not be possible in other senior living options.

Social Opportunities and Community Engagement

Nursing homes understand the importance of social interaction and work to create an environment that fosters community engagement. They offer a variety of activities and programs designed to keep residents mentally stimulated, combat loneliness, and promote socialization. Whether it's group outings, recreational activities, or shared dining experiences, nursing homes provide opportunities for residents to connect with one another, form meaningful relationships, and enjoy a sense of belonging.

Assistance with Daily Tasks

In addition to medical care, nursing homes also provide assistance with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and medication management. This level of support ensures that residents can maintain their personal hygiene, manage their medications, and carry out their daily routines with ease. By relieving them of these tasks, nursing homes allow residents to focus on their overall well-being and enjoy a higher quality of life.

Safe and Nurturing Environment

Nursing homes prioritize the safety and well-being of their residents by creating a secure and nurturing environment. With safety features like railings and grab bars, residents can move around with confidence and minimize the risk of accidents or falls. Additionally, nursing homes often have specialized memory care units and trained staff to cater to the unique needs of individuals with cognitive impairments, providing a supportive and understanding atmosphere.

Additional Services and Support

Apart from medical and custodial care, nursing homes offer a range of additional services to enhance the overall experience for residents. Nutritional counseling, recreational activities, social work services, and respite care for family caregivers are among the supplementary services provided. These offerings contribute to the holistic well-being of residents, addressing their physical, emotional, and social needs.

Choosing the Right Nursing Home

Selecting the right nursing home for your senior loved one is a crucial decision that requires careful consideration. Here are some factors to keep in mind during the selection process:

Assessing the Facility

When visiting potential nursing homes, pay attention to the overall condition and cleanliness of the facility. Evaluate whether the residents appear well cared for and observe the size of the rooms, ensuring they provide adequate space and privacy. Take note of the available recreational and private spaces, as well as safety features such as railings and grab bars, which contribute to a safe living environment.

Licensing and Staffing

Ensure that the nursing home is licensed by the state and certified by Medicare and/or Medicaid. Inquire about the staff-to-resident ratios to gauge the level of personalized attention residents receive. Compare these ratios with state and national averages to assess the quality of care provided. Additionally, inquire about the training and qualifications of administrators, medical professionals, and key staff members, particularly in geriatrics or long-term care. This information will give you an understanding of the expertise and experience available at the facility.

Medical Services and Specialized Care

Examine the range of medical services offered by the nursing home, such as skilled nursing care, therapy options, and specialized care units for conditions like dementia. Inquire about the facility's approach to end-of-life care, as well as their protocols for transfers from hospitals to the nursing home and vice versa. These factors are crucial in ensuring that your senior loved one's medical needs will be appropriately addressed throughout their stay.

Proximity and Accessibility

Consider the location of the nursing home in relation to family members and the nearest hospital. Being in close proximity to loved ones can make visitation more convenient and provide a sense of support for the resident. Additionally, accessibility to healthcare facilities ensures prompt medical attention in case of emergencies or specialized treatments.

Financial Considerations and Coverage

Discuss the cost of basic services and inquire about additional services that may incur additional charges. Understand the facility's policy regarding Medicaid coverage and what options are available if a senior's financial resources are depleted. This information will help you plan for the financial aspects of nursing home care and ensure that your senior loved one's needs can be met within your budget.

Nursing homes play a vital role in providing compassionate care for aging adults with complex medical needs. By offering round-the-clock professional care, comprehensive medical services, social opportunities, and assistance with daily tasks, nursing homes create a safe and supportive environment for residents. When choosing a nursing home, it is important to assess the facility, consider licensing and staffing, evaluate the range of medical services and specialized care available, review the proximity and accessibility, and understand the financial considerations and coverage options. By taking these factors into account, you can make an informed decision and ensure that your loved one receives the highest quality of care in a nurturing and compassionate environment.

To learn more about how Sunbound can help make senior care more affordable for you or your loved one, send us an email at or request more information on Sunbound. Sunbound is the best way to pay for senior living and senior care and is on a mission to make senior living affordable for everyone.

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