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Should You Consider a Nursing Home?
Do you have an elderly relative who can no longer live independently? Does he or she need 24-hour nursing care and supervision? Is this person chronically ill, or in need of intensive rehabilative care? Does your relative need help with most daily living activities, such as getting out of bed, eating, bathing, dressing and using the bathroom?


If you answered "yes" to most of these questions, then you and your relative may have reached the point at which you should consider choosing a nursing home.



What Kinds of Services Can a Nursing Home Offer?
A quality nursing home offers a full array of personal, dietary, therapeutic, social, recreational and nursing services. Meals, laundry, housekeeping and medical services are provided. In addition, most not-for-profit homes offer religious services and counseling programs.


The activities coordinator is a trained therapist or someone designated to assess residents' individual needs and create programs that provide recreation, entertainment and therapy for residents.


The social service staff consists of social workers and perhaps psychologists and counselors who assist residents in coping with the emotional and psychological aspects of aging.


The food service director oversees a nursing home's daily meal program. Many homes also employ a consulting dietitian to ensure that meals are appetizing and varied and meet the individual dietary requirements of residents.


Pastoral care staff consists of ordained, professional or lay persons trained to meet the spiritual needs of residents through worship, study, meditation and counseling.


Volunteers are members of the community who assist staff by spending many hours interacting with residents and helping them perform their daily activities.



Who Pays for Nursing Home Care?
Nursing home care, like all good health care, is costly. Before you agree to pay for services, understand completely all the financial arrangements of the home you have selected. Nursing homes charge a basic daily or monthly rate.


Many residents or their families pay for nursing home care out of their own private funds. One way to help defray nursing home expenses is to purchase private long-term care insurance.


Others whose finances are depleted rely on Medicaid to cover the costs of their nursing home care. Medicaid is the joint federal and state program that helps older people and those with disabilities pay for nursing home care and health care at home after they can no longer afford the expenses themselves.


Ask admissions staff at the nursing home of your choice what the basic monthly fee is and what it includes. Ask if the home charges extra for physician's fees, medications, laundry, special feeding, frequent linen changes or special supplies such as wheelchairs and walkers. Are therapies included in the basic charge? Is a deposit required?


To find out whether a resident is financially eligible for Medicaid, call the Department of Social Services in your area. Contact your Social Security office about Medicare, the federal program that underwrites health insurance for persons 65 and older and some persons with disability, but be aware that Medicare pays for very little nursing home care, and never for a long-term stay.


In addition, if your relative is a veteran of the U.S. armed forces, it will be to your advantage to investigate services available through the Veterans Administration. The nursing home may ask for financial disclosure to determine the appropriate payment mechanism. Admissions personnel will assist you in determining what information is necessary and what forms need to be filed to expedite placement.


Because some nursing homes have waiting lists, you might want to have paperwork done in advance in the event that an emergency placement needs to be made.



What Does Every Good Nursing Home Have?
Look for the following when choosing a nursing home:

  • A current operating license from the state.
  • An administrator who has an up-to-date state license.
  • Certification for Medicare and Medicaid if these programs are important to you now or in the future.
  • A location that suits the resident and makes regular visits by family and friends possible.
  • Handrails in hallways, grab bars in bathrooms and other features aimed at accident prevention.
  • Clearly marked exits and unobstructed paths to these exits. All nursing homes must comply with state and/or federal fire safety codes.
  • Bedrooms that open onto a corridor and have windows, as required by law.
  • A physician who is available for emergencies.
  • No heavy odors, whether pleasant or offensive. A good home will not use highly scented sprays to mask odors.
  • Hallways wide enough to permit two wheelchairs to pass with ease and wheelchair ramps for easy access into and out of the home.
  • Kitchens that separate food preparation, garbage, and dishwashing areas and keep perishable foods refrigerated.
  • Toilet facilities designed to accommodate wheelchair residents.
  • An attractive resident dining room with tables convenient for wheelchairs and food that looks appetizing. Notice, too, whether residents who need help are receiving it.
  • Residents who look clean and are dressed appropriately for a full day of activity and social interaction. A policy that encourages residents to go outside. Even city homes should have a lawn or garden area for residents to get fresh air.
  • Commitment to a philosophy of care in which physical and chemical restraints are used minimally or not at all.
  • An activity room or designated space for residents who are able to be involved in reading, crafts and social activities.
  • A friendly and available staff who appear pleasant, caring and accommodating to residents and visitors.
  • A volunteer program.
  • An active resident council or some type of resident participation program that enables residents to recommend changes within the home.
  • A residents' bill of rights or a stated policy that identifies and respects residents' individual rights.


Where Can You Get Additional Information?
Contact the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA) to find out if your state has an AAHSA affiliate. AAHSA affiliated state associations operate in 39 states accross the country.


American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
2510 Connecticut Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20008-1520


Order a copy of AAHSA's Directory of Members . This book gives you instant access to a nation-wide network of some 5,000 not-for-profit nursing homes, continuing care retirement communities, assisted living and senior housing facilities. You'll find a complete contact information and a list of each facility's services. To order, call AAHSA publications at 1-800-508-9442 or, in the Washington D.C. area, call 301-490-0677.


State and area agencies on aging can also be helpful sources of information on care and services for older people in local communities and on eligibility for various assistance programs. To contact a state or local agency on aging, consult the telephone listings under "Government," or call the toll-free Eldercare Locator, 1-800-677-1116 .


The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA) is it national nonprofit organization representing more than 5,000 not-for-profit nursing homes, continuing care retirement communities, assisted living and senior housing facilities and community service organizations for the elderly. AAHSA's mission is to represent the interests of its members by promoting the association's vision of an integrated continuum of high quality services through ethical leadership, advocacy, education, information and other services. AAHSA's vision is a world in which every community offers an integrated and coordinated continuum of high quality, affordable and innovative health care, housing, and home and community-based services and in which self-determination, compassion, benevolence, individual dignity, diversity and social responsibility are valued.

Source:  (Formerly


Heritage Enterprises Inc.
115 W. Jefferson St., Suite 401
P.O. Box 3188 
Bloomington IL 61702-3188
PH: (309) 828-4361  
FAX: (309) 829-5477

Heritage Operations Group is proud to provide the senior population in Illinois with rehabilitative therapy services, skilled nursing care, specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care, assisted and supportive living, independent living and pharmacy services.


Heritage Operations Group, is a separate and distinct legal entity from any and all other entities named or listed on this website.  Any information contained in this website does not constitute evidence of a relationship between Heritage Operations Group, or any other named or listed entity.

Heritage Operations Group •  115 W. Jefferson St. Suite 401  •  P.O. Box 3188   Bloomington, IL   61702-3188
PH. 800-397-1313  •  FAX: 309-829-5477

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