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Nursing Homes

The decision to enter a nursing home is often unpleasant. In many cases, it indicates that we have reached that point in our lives where, after a lifetime of independence, we are no longer able to care for ourselves because of physical or mental disabilities, and we no longer have someone who can care for us in our homes. But a nursing home does not need to be a bad experience. Homes can be a source of new friendships, improved quality of life, and the immediate availability of medical care when needed.

Choosing the right home, however, can be more problematic, especially if you are choosing for another. The choice must balance quality of care, costs, comfort, pleasantness, and accessibility to loved ones. We recommend approaching it as you would any other decision: through a calm consideration of the facts, visits, discussions with current residents and their families and doctors, and follow-up visits to ensure your loved one is getting the level of care and self-satisfaction you expect.

We also recommend that you read Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home, published by the US Department of Health and Human Services. You'll find excellent suggestions to help you in the process of selecting a nursing home.

Finally, a nursing home should not be thought of as our final stop while the clock on our

life is coming to a close. The right home for us should instead be a place that alleviates the serious disabilities we face at that stage in our life -- not for life maintenance -- but for the purpose of allowing us to the extent we can to continue to enjoy the joys of living in our later years.

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