Art of Aging: Choosing a nursing home

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A new government ratings program is designed to make the process of choosing a nursing home easier.

Saul Gruber is an attorney specializing in elder care and nursing homes. He says the government's new 5-star rating system enables consumers to do "comparison shopping."

"It gives everybody a picture of a nursing home. And, you can compare whether one place has better staffing, one place has less pressure ulcers, less fractures," said Gruber.

To rate nursing homes in your area, just go to and enter your location.

"So, if you want to look in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, for an example, it will give you overall ratings, health inspection, staffing and quality measures. So, you really are able to determine if this is a place for mom or dad," said Gruber.

While Gruber says the ratings are very helpful, he says it's not the most important factor you should consider.

"The eye test, the smell test is incredibly important. There's nothing more important than that. Go there around meal time. Go there a second time, maybe first thing in the morning. And, look and see how the interaction between the care givers and the loved ones. I mean, that's the most important thing," added Gruber.

In the end, Gruber recommends you consult the ratings, especially regarding high staffing, low turnover and any problems discovered during inspections. But trust your own observations.

You can find more resources for seniors in our Art of Aging section.
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