Finding the best long-term care situation for our loved ones presents a formidable challenge. In fact, it can be emotionally wrenching as well as just downright overwhelming if you’ve never been faced with decisions like this before.  There are so many options, and with each of those options comes a million questions and concerns.

Crisis Mode and the Clock is Ticking

Although we may know months in advance that the time is approaching, the fact is we often wait until we’re in crisis mode to take any real action.  As painful and difficult as these decisions are bound to be, adding a sense of urgency to the equation only intensifies the predicament. Trust me, I learned that the hard way.

When the time came for us, we had just one week. To further complicate matters, my mom was in the hospital at the time, so it quickly became a fire drill the likes of no other! I had very little experience in dealing with doctors and hospitals, and my familiarity with long-term care was non-existent.  At that point we didn’t have the luxury of time to do the kind of research I would have liked, so my contact at A Place for Mom became a fast friend and a trusted advisor. The moral of story – use the resources that are available to you.

Wisdom Through Experience

Now, having several years of experience, there are other questions I would ask, and I would certainly approach the situation differently.  First and foremost, don’t wait until the last minute; give yourself some breathing room. It will be much easier to analyze your options and make an educated decision if you have a clear head. Bottom line: as unpleasant as the prospect may seem right now, you’ll be thankful later.

The Internet is one of the best resources available – take advantage of it! Use reputable sites, and look for blogs written by people who have real world experience. Often, the most sage advice comes from those who have walked in your shoes. The beauty of technology is that it allows us to network like never before.

Once you develop a short list, do your homework. Consult with the health department or your local long-term care ombudsman. Put Google to work for you; it’s amazing what you can turn up with just a few searches. How has the facility fared on their periodic state surveys? What is their history with regard to lawsuits?  How about formal complaints? If wandering is a concern, how many elopement incidents have they had in the past six months?

Do’s and Don’t’s

As someone who has been through the trials and tribulations of finding the right long-term care for my own mom, there are a few key tips that I can offer.

  • DO ask to speak privately to residents and family members.
  • DO make unannounced visits at various times throughout the day/evening.
  • DON’T assume that extravagant decor and high prices equate to good care. That is simply NOT always the case.
  • DO remember that the people you speak with at various facilities are trying to sell you something.  Many are wonderful individuals who have a true passion for elder care, but it is always best to err on the side of caution.  For them, this is a business deal.  For you, it’s the life of your loved one.
  • DON’T worry about offending anyone; if it’s on your mind, ASK.  Otherwise, you may find yourself regretting it later.

Last but not least, I recommend contacting a Senior Living Advisor at A Place for Mom. While they shouldn’t be your only resource, these folks provide a great starting point. You’ll speak to a local advisor, familiar with the care options in your vicinity.

Because this is their area of expertise, they can help narrow down the best potential options for your loved one’s unique situation, allowing you to focus on screening those top candidates. They’ll even set up appointments and tours for you if desired. Having a sincere, compassionate expert on my side as I muddled through this foreign land of long-term care was absolutely invaluable.

In the end, it all boils down to three little words: Trust Your Gut.  Our instincts almost always lead us to the best answer… if we’re just quiet enough to hear them.



  1. Jeremy

    That pretty much hits the nail on the head as to why you should seek out this knowledge early. When the sense of urgency hits, often, the senses themselves flee.

    One of the main problems that presents itself is the fact that we are in the age of information overload. I, personally, can google choosing a nursing home to find well over a million responses. And sure some of those are where frustrated family members posted their thoughts on a personal blog. The problem is that those rants are just that…rants. They aren’t always full of great insight. Furthermore, one person’s solution with their loved one is not intended to be a panacea. My loved on is different than your loved one.

    No. It’s not best to search the internet for everyone’s advice. It’s best to choose a proven system from someone that understands long term care.

    Go to and receive a FREE report titled “Choose the Right Nursing Home For Your Needs”. It’s a system that takes about an hour and four swift steps.

    • Ann Napoletan

      Jeremy, you are right; there are no one-size-fits-all solutions in this area, and I certainly didn’t mean to imply that what works for one person will work for another. We, as caregivers, can only dream of our world being that simple. That being said, I believe it’s important to know what information is out there so that each individual can decide what works best in their unique situation. I have personally found that oftentimes people who have walked a mile in my shoes, so to speak, can provide very useful input. Thanks for your feedback.

      • Jeremy


        I think that’s a very valid point about seeing others’ experience as valuable. Oftentimes it’s very difficult to transcend our own situation to see a good solution for our problem.

        The problem that I’ve found working in long term care for more than a decade and also caring for my own loved ones is that most of the resources related to senior care options are outdated or are missing key pieces of information. That’s all I was implying about the information overload. I wasn’t intending to minimize your’s or anyone else’s experience.

        Great discussion. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>