Movin’ on up to a deluxe nursing home in the sky?

Deluxe nursing home

There may come a time when the changes that a person with Alzheimer’s disease experiences become too much for a single, unpaid caregiver to handle. Finding a new place for a loved one to stay requires quite a bit of research, online and on the phone as well as on the field, to make sure that the needs you can no longer meet will be met by trained, professional staff in a safe full-time care facility.

Nursing home informational resources





Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services


CMS offers a guide to help caregivers and care receivers choose a nursing home that fits their needs, including descriptions of types of long-term care, questions to ask the staff, and ways to pay for care. It also provides the Nursing Home Compare service.


7500 Security Boulevard

Baltimore, MD 21244-1850

1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)

TTY: 1-877-486-2048




Joint Commission

Checks nursing homes, home health care providers, hospitals, and assisted living facilities for compliance with professional standards. Offers a Quality Check tool. 


One Renaissance Boulevard
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181



601 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20049
1-888-OUR-AARP (1-888-687-2277)


Assisted Living Federation of America

1650 King Street, Suite 602
Alexandria, VA 22314


National Center for Assisted Living

1201 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005

National Clearinghouse for Long Term Care Information

Administration for Community Living
Washington, DC 20201


 Field research

Ask support group members, social worker, doctor, family members, and friends about care facilities in your area that you can visit. Call these facilities to schedule a visit. Make a list of questions to ask the staff while you’re there, including:

·         What activities are planned for residents?

·         How many staff members are there?

·         How many staff members are trained to administer medical care?

·         How many residents have Alzheimer’s disease?

·         Is there a special unit for Alzheimer patients? If there is, what kind of services does it offer?

·         Does a doctor regularly check on residents? If so, how often?

·         What is a typical day like for a person with Alzheimer’s disease?

·         Is there a safe outside area for the person to go?

·         Do staff members address residents respectfully?

·         What does the fee include?

·         How does my relative get to doctor’s appointments?

After you’ve visited a nursing home at several different times during the day and evening, ask yourself the following questions:

·         How does the staff care for residents?

·         Is the staff friendly?

·         Does the facility seem comfortable?

·         How do the residents look – clean, well taken care of?

·         Are there comfortable mealtimes?

·         Is the place clean and well-kept?

·         How does it smell?

Types of full-time care facilities



·         Nursing home

For people who can no longer care for themselves. Some have a special Alzheimer’s disease care unit in separate sections of the facility and with Alzheimer-trained staff. They may provide special activities, meals, and medical care designed to make the patient feel like they are at home. Some may accept Medicaid and long-term care insurance. Nursing homes are State-inspected and regulated.


·         Assisted living facilities

They have rooms or apartments for people who can take care of themselves for the most part but need some assistance. Like nursing homes, some assisted living facilities have Alzheimer units with specialized staff.



·         Group home

For people who can’t take care of themselves anymore. 4-10 residents and 2 or more staff members live in the home. The staff makes meals, helps with grooming and medication, and generally cares for the residents. You will have to pay for the costs of your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease living in the group home.


Find out what each facility charges and whether Medicare, Medicaid, or long-term insurance can cover some of the costs. Medicare covers nursing homes for only a short period after the Alzheimer patient has been hospitalized for a given amount of time.

Tips for moving day

·         Realize in advance that the day can be extremely stressful as well as very emotional.

·         Discuss your feelings with a social worker, and ask them how to best help your loved one adjust to a new place.

·         Become acquainted with the staff prior to the move, and discuss ways to smooth the transition.

·         Do not argue with your relative about the need to move to a facility.

The fact that the person with Alzheimer’s disease has moved to a care facility does not mean that they are out of your jurisdiction nor that you can wash your hands off them. Monitor their stay in the nursing home, assisted living facility, or group home to make sure they are receiving proper care, or take measures if they aren’t.