Choosing a nursing home for your loved one

There are over 400 nursing homes in Iowa, many of which are concentrated in and around the Des Moines metro area. When trying to choose a nursing home for a loved one, the options can seem overwhelming. These include nursing homes of all different sizes and types, including non-profit, for-profit and government-operated facilities.

Starting points for choosing a nursing home

Some important considerations when selecting a nursing home in Iowa include:

  • Reputation. Have you talked with anyone who has firsthand experience at the facility, such as a friend or trusted health care provider?
  • Research. Have you conducted your own research on the facility, for instance by reviewing its inspection records and ratings?
  • Location. Is the facility in an area that is convenient and accessible for the resident's friends and family members?
  • Specialization. Would your loved one benefit from being in a home that specializes in caring for specific medical conditions, such as stroke or dementia?

Once you have narrowed down your list of potential options, the next step is to visit each of them in person to see for yourself whether they seem to be a good fit.

When visiting a potential home for your loved one, pay attention to the staff and how they interact with you and with the residents. Do they seem patient and attentive? Hurried and distracted? Also notice how the residents appear. Are they happy and active? Or do they seem bored and lethargic? Another important factor is the facility itself. Does it look clean and well maintained? Is there enough for the residents to do?

Once settled, keep an eye out for signs of neglect

Once you finally reach a decision and get your loved one has settled in, it is important to remain on the lookout for any signs that something may be amiss. Unfortunately, even in the best facilities, neglect and abuse can sometimes occur, and the signs are not always obvious. In fact, warning signs of nursing home neglect are frequently mistaken for symptoms of an underlying medical issue, such as dementia or general frailty. Examples include:

  • Unusual weight loss, malnutrition or dehydration
  • Changes in the resident's behavior or personality
  • Bruises, broken bones or other signs of physical injury
  • Bedsores or frequent bladder infections
  • Loss of interest in usual activities

If you suspect that your loved one has been abused or neglected at a nursing home in Iowa, be sure to discuss your concerns with an attorney experienced in nursing home neglect cases. A lawyer with a background in this area can work with you to hold the at-fault parties accountable and prevent future instances of abuse, and will also work hard to pursue fair compensation for the harm that your loved one has suffered.