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A New Year’s “Resolution:” More Choices at Nursing Homes


It’s a challenge to all concerned when a loved one’s needs — or your own — result in having to enter a nursing home, whether temporarily or for the indefinite future. One of our biggest collective fears is how will the senior manage the transition from home to a new place.

Traditionally there were so many rules and regulations in many nursing homes that it was often difficult to know whether your loved one’s best interests were being heard, understood and affirmatively responded to by the nursing home. To alleviate some of these concerns, the federal government’s Health and Human Services has put into effect a series of new regulations that must be followed lest funding be cut to noncompliant nursing homes.

The new regulations are now in effect and their focus is on giving more power to the residents of nursing homes, allowing them to make more of their own decisions. For example, resident can now:

  • decide what and when to eat and make their own decisions on having outside foods and snacks.
  • decide when they would like to have visitors.
  • choose their roommates.

The new regulations also provide added legal protection for the residents, such as:

  • have a staff member whose purpose is to work with residents when there is a complaint. When the final decision is made, it must be in writing.
  • protections against unjust discharge, such as a discharge during the time when a resident has applied for Medicaid, and is simply waiting to hear back.

Additionally there is now additional training and protection from elder abuse, in that:

  • staff is given adequate training and qualifications, including extra qualifications for working with individuals with dementia.
  • the facility must reach certain proportions of staff to residents deemed “enough competent staff.”

With these new regulations in place, there is greater accountability to residents and their families and physicians, allowing us to feel more comfortable knowing that our loved ones are able to express themselves more effectively and be better protected. 

If you like what you’ve read here and are interested in reading more, buy the book,

“Oh My God! We’re Parenting Our Parents: How To Transform This Remarkable Challenge Into A Journey of Love.

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