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3 Nursing Home Features You Don’t Want to Overlook

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senior man in wheelchair with oriental female nurse by his side

As we get older, choosing some form of senior housing becomes more likely. And, with no shortage of options out there, knowing what you want will help to ease any pressure. If you’re in generally good health, you may choose to age in place (90% of seniors do). If you want to downsize, an apartment perhaps? But, a nursing home will probably be the best selection for those needing round-the-clock medical assistance.

If you or a loved one find yourselves in the market for a nursing home, it’s likely that health and safety will be of particular importance to you.


How many nurses are on duty overnight? What happens if a resident falls? And, will there be medication management?

Good! You’ve got plenty of questions. In fact, you might even consider bringing a checklist full of them when taking some tours. Now, here are a few more things to consider – don’t overlook these 3 safety features when choosing nursing care.

Facility Design & Signs


Many nursing home residents have weak muscles or other disabilities that make getting around difficult. Look for a facility where accessibility is a top priority! Low sinks, higher toilets. Handrails and grab bars. Wheelchair ramps are a must (and they should be ADA-compliant).

Between 50 and 75% of nursing home residents fall per year. Around 20% of those falls are because of environmental hazards. Look for a facility that is clutter-free and well-lit!


Finally, perhaps the most important, yet often overlooked design feature: the floor plan. Are hallways easy to navigate? Are there clear signs (with pictures!) on walls and doors? Is the nursing station in a centralized location, easy for any resident to get to, should they need help? On your facility tour, you and a loved one might consider taking a walk on your own – Get lost. See how easy it is to find your way back.

Mental Health & Well-Being


According to a report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, nearly one-fourth of adults over the age of 65 are considered to be socially isolated. How do your nursing home choices counter this? Are there game rooms where residents can have fun together? Do service pets or other volunteers regularly visit the facility? How about group exercise classes?

For residents living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the facility should be easy to navigate and equipped with picture signs to help avoid any extra confusion, while also promoting independence. Are there any self-help groups or classes for these residents or their family members? What types of memory enrichment activities are offered?

Outside Gardens & Grounds


First of all – are all outdoor spaces locked? And, are there any fenced-in areas? For the safety of residents who have memory issues, this is essential! Many people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia tend to wander.

Next, how often are outdoor spaces accessible? If a resident feels like taking a walk in the garden or feeding the birds, will staff help them to do so? Exercise in itself is important – but fresh air while exercising is even better!


Finally, how are outdoor grounds maintained? If they’re accessible in the winter, does staff salt and shovel to prevent falls?

Choosing a Nursing Home

If you need help choosing the perfect nursing home, then visit our nursing facility directory to get started!

Originally published November 21, 2023


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