6 Questions for Evaluating a Nursing Home

05/20/2015 05:36 pm ET | Updated May 20, 2016

Evaluating a nursing home for your loved one is as fraught as buying your first home, but without any of the joy.

To the rescue:, which has a very useful site for comparison: Nursinghomecompare

And MSN News recently did an analysis of that data (from nursinghomecompare) for 16,000 nursing facilities (that accept Medicare or Medicaid) in the United States: U.S. News Best Nursing Homes by Avery Comarow.

Needless to say, California came out on top, with 312 five-star nursing homes. You don't want to be stuck in Alaska or Wyoming.

Here's quick advice for when you are doing your own evaluation:

Joanna R. Leefer, the author of Almost Like Home, a guide to choosing a nursing facility, suggests these six key questions when assessing a home for someone with dementia.

1. Is the dementia unit large enough so that the resident will not feel confined?

2. Does it offer activities appropriate for the person's intellectual abilities?

3. Does it have a positive environment -- colorful, but not overly stimulating or confusing?

4. Are music and singing included in the activities? Many residents with advanced dementia still sing or play musical instruments, even if they can no longer express themselves in other ways.

5. Is the staff trained to handle patients with dementia and Alzheimer's? How does the staff deal with patients who act out?

6. Are residents in the dementia wing kept clean and well dressed, and treated with the same respect as those in other parts of the facility?

For more information read the full story here: Picking a Nursing Home Shouldn't be Trial and Error

To order Almost Like Home: A Family Guide to Navigating the Nursing Home Maze, click here.

This story was originally published on, a website for caregivers of people with Alzheimer's and dementia. For more tips and support, visit the site here.