When it becomes clear that a loved one would thrive in a skilled nursing environment, this transition can be challenging. However, researching thoroughly can provide reassurance that you are making a well-informed decision.
Becoming familiar with the key questions to ask can equip you with the necessary information when making your choice.

Where to Begin

Start by carefully considering your loved one’s current needs while also anticipating their future requirements. Engage in discussions with friends, family, and your network for any insights from their experience. In addition, consider seeking the assistance with a placement specialist or utilizing other available resources. Factoring in the financial aspect, considering the expenses associated with a new living environment and exploring options for help covering these costs.

Preparing the groundwork can make your search more productive and help refine your choices. In addition to researching elder care communities, it’s crucial that you physically visit the locations and engage in discussions with key personnel like the director, nursing director, even life enrichment coordinators. The following 10 questions serve as valuable prompts to help engage in meaningful conversations and that will help you answer your most critical inquiries.

Top Questions To Ask Skilled Nursing Staff

    • What is the staff to resident ratio?
    • How does the community hire, train and review staff members? What is the ratio of staff turn over?
    • Does each resident have an individualized care plan that staff follow closely and revisit regularly? Are care plans re-evaluated as needs change?
    • Does the community address a resident’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs?
    • What steps are taken to give the environment a comfortable, real-home feel? For example, are residents given the opportunity to contribute in meaningful ways?
    • How does the community meet residents’ nutritional needs? Are their preferences taken into account?
    • How are medical issues and emergencies handled?
    • Are loved ones updated when a resident’s physical or emotional condition changes significantly?
    • Does the community provide a variety of activities that empower elders to continue to learn and grow?
    • Has the community faced any resident complaints or official review? This includes issues with the care provided or the environment itself.

During your visit, observe various aspects such as the cleanliness of the community, interactions between staff and residents, property accessibility, and the availability of equipment such as lifts. Pay attention to the fine details such as the warmth of staff greetings, their engagement with residents, and how do the residents interact with each other. What is the overall condition of the community, ensuring it is well maintained, bright, and inviting.

It’s important to remember that the “right” answers to your questions will vary based on your loved one’s health and housing preferences. But these insights are valuable when discussing next steps with them.

Empowering Your Decision-Making Process

Transparency is the most important characteristic when selecting a skilled nursing community. You should feel encouraged and comfortable to ask any questions that come to mind, and the provider should be able to provide answers. At Green House Homes, this is our philosophy, and we take pride in offering a real-home environment for elders, that fosters openness and trust.

Man regaining confidence after fall

Falls are common among Americans age 65 and older, in fact they are the leading cause of injury in older adults. But falls can be prevented and they are not a natural part of the aging process. 

Older adults can suffer significant physical injuries if they fall, including bruising and cuts to broken bones and even head trauma. 

In addition to the physical injury that can result from falls, just as importantly, a fall may cause emotional injuries that linger long after the incident. Fear about falling again may leave people reluctant to resume their normal activities. Plus, if they do cut back on walking for an extended period, they may lose coordination and muscle tone, and consequently, be at increased risk of falling in the future. At Green Homes, we understand the stress that some seniors feel when getting back on their feet. Fortunately, there are actions that families can take to make it easier for loved ones to regain their mobility.

5 Proven Confidence-Building Strategies

Getting physically well is the first step. Depending on the extent of the physical injuries, a skilled nursing community can help with rehabilitation such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and more. Once their health care professional has given the green-light to resume activity, below are five things families can do to help their loved one regain their confidence.

    • Talk about the emotional effects of the incident. It is important that elders have an opportunity to express how they are feeling emotionally after a fall. It is normal to be apprehensive about getting back on their feet, and they should know that the people who care about them understand that and are happy to talk with them about their concerns. Sometimes just verbalizing the feelings can help diminish their hold, but don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance if the trauma is persistent and/or severe.
    • Assess the elder’s environment for tripping hazards. Conducting a thorough inspection and correcting any issues that are discovered (ridges in carpet, rugs without proper no-slip backing, cluttered walkways, etc.) can give an elder confidence that any risks have been addressed. Work with the older adult to show them all the steps that are being taken to ensure falling doesn’t happen again.
    • Confirm that the elder is in good health. It is helpful for someone who has fallen to hear their doctor and physical therapist confirm that their injuries are fully healed and any necessary rehabilitation has been successfully completed.
    • Develop a plan for regular exercise. Staying active helps elders keep their muscles strong and their joints limber. It also helps them maintain their coordination and sense of balance. Rehabilitation with a physical therapist can provide some guidance for the right movements that best suit the individual.
    • Consider a fall monitoring device. If the elder does not already wear a device that they can use to summon help when they fall, and ideally one that can automatically detect that they have fallen, it may be something to consider. Ideally they should have a device that can automatically detect that they have fallen and send an alert.

Powerful Reassurance in a Skilled Nursing Environment

Assisted Living Community Doing Group ExercisesMany elders who are living at home can get right back to their normal routine after a fall. As soon as their injuries have healed and the cause of the fall has been remedied, they are ready to be mobile again. For others, the incident may be a sign that it would be good to consider transitioning to a skilled nursing environment like Green House Homes.

        • 24-hour skilled nursing care and clinical services
        • Full offering of therapies: physical, occupational, speech and respiratory
        • Onsite therapy equipment available
        • In-house rehabilitation option, Medicare-certified
        • On-staff registered dietitian, nutritional therapy
        • Hospice, palliative and end-of-life care

Our caregivers can render aid at a moment’s notice to ensure that any physical injury is addressed promptly and that consequently any emotional trauma is minimized. Contact us to learn more about our unique, real-home environment.


    Many people within skilled nursing facility report feeling “down” or having the “winter blues” during the winter months when the days get shorter and they feel better in the spring and summer when longer daylight hours return. While it may be  just a passing thought for some, it is a real condition that can disrupt daily life for others. The condition is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and it is a form of depression that causes symptoms such as lack of energy and feelings of sadness or melancholy.

    It tends to be triggered by the onset of the fall and winter months. Experts theorize that the change of seasons disrupts a person’s daily rhythms called circadian rhythms. Others believe that changes in the production of hormones like serotonin and melatonin play a role. Either way, we know that seasonal affective disorder can impact residents at our Northern Colorado skilled nursing community. 

    The Eden Alternative Can Reduce SAD

    Fortunately, our skilled nursing community is guided by the Eden Alternative philosophy and approach to elder care which can play a significant role in helping older adults combat the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is often exacerbated by feelings of isolation and limited engagement, particularly during the colder months. The Eden Alternative focuses on creating vibrant and socially engaging environments. By promoting a sense of community and encouraging meaningful connections, older adults can find companionship and emotional support, countering the loneliness that often accompanies SAD.

    Additionally, incorporating nature into daily activities, a key aspect of the Eden Alternative, aligns with strategies for mitigating SAD symptoms. Exposure to natural light, outdoor spaces, and the nurturing of plants can positively impact mood and well-being, providing a holistic approach to addressing the challenges posed by Seasonal Affective Disorder in older adults.

    How to Manage SAD

    It is important to keep in mind that SAD is a form of depression. As such, we encourage residents to discuss their symptoms with their health care provider. Below are some steps older adults can take, in consultation with their physician, to combat SAD:

    • Stick to a schedule. SAD can make it difficult to sleep and therefore harder to get out of bed in the morning. However, it is best if you continue to go to bed and get up at the same time even as the seasons change.
    • Use light therapy. Light therapy boxes produce light that is similar to sunshine and may help keep your circadian rhythms on track. Light therapy may be most effective when used first thing in the morning.
    • Try a dawn simulator. These devices produce light that gradually increases in intensity to mimic the rising of the sun. They may make it easier for you to get up in the morning.
    • Get or stay active. Regular exercise can help protect against SAD.  
    • Take a vitamin D supplement. Your doctor can perform tests to determine if your level of vitamin D is low. If it is, it can be helpful to take a vitamin D supplement.
    • Try aromatherapy. Some researchers believe that the areas of the brain that control mood can be influenced by essential oils.
    • Spend time outside. While the light provided by a light box or dawn simulator is helpful, nothing beats getting a healthy dose of natural sunlight each day.
    • Consider antidepressant medication. For more serious cases of SAD that don’t respond to other therapies, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant. If that is the case, be sure to take it as directed and do not stop taking it without consulting your physician.

    Be Proactive in Dealing with SAD

    We encourage residents to be proactive about all aspects of their physical, mental and emotional health. This includes SAD. Too often people think the only option for dealing with seasonal depression is to “grin and bear it,” but there are many treatment options that can make the fall and winter months much more enjoyable.

    Elderly man laughing

    Are you assisting an elder in finding skilled nursing? If so, there are certain things you should be sure to look for or ask about on a tour. The presence or absence of these six key features can help you make good decisions that will provide care and support for your loved one.

    6 Important Attributes of a High-Quality Elder Care Provider

    In the course of doing research online, visiting a skilled nursing community in person and talking with staff members, here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

      • Community maintenance and cleanliness. How clean a skilled nursing environment is can vary based on when you tour. For example, if you arrive immediately after a scheduled cleaning, it will likely look very clean. If you take a tour just prior to the next scheduled cleaning, things may not look quite so tidy. This slight variance is to be expected, much like in our own homes. But, every resident deserves to live in a community that is generally well-maintained and clean.
      • Staff compassion. If you see examples of staff members interacting with residents in a warm, friendly and patient manner, that is a good sign. On the other hand, if the staff seem rude or insensitive, that should raise concerns. Everyone gets busy, but notice if the residents’ needs are the main priority or if staff seem to have other duties that pull them away. If they are not compassionate and attentive when visitors are on site, imagine how they could behave when nobody is around.
      • Staff experience. When taking a tour, you should ask your guide about the experience level of the staff. It’s not necessary that everyone has decades working in a skilled nursing setting. But ideally, there should be some seasoned veterans in the mix who are experienced in dealing with any kind of issue that may arise. Find out what kinds of expertise is onsite from certified nursing assistants, to registered nurses and/or other staff members.
      • Services for current and future needs. It is important to know how well a community can handle your loved one’s current needs. It is equally important to learn about services that the person might need in the future. Ask about what conditions and services they offer and find out what conditions or medical needs they are not able to accommodate. While it’s hard to know exactly what your needs might be, it’s good to have more options in case you need them instead of having to move your loved one to a different community with higher level care if they need it.
      • State surveys and personal opinions. On your tour, you should ask about how the community has scored on state-mandated inspections. You should also ask if you can talk with any residents and families about their experience. If for some reason that is not possible, you may be able to find feedback online.
      • Total costs. Each skilled nursing community has its own way of breaking down its fees. Be sure that you understand the total cost your loved one will incur if they become a resident. The last thing they want is to get a bill with unexpected extra charges.


    Finding The Right Community for Your Loved One

    Finding a skilled nursing facility that meets all of an elder’s needs requires doing your “homework.” However, it is very much worth the effort. Our community at Greenhouse Homes is geared toward seniors who want to live in a real-home setting where they feel engaged, supported and appreciated. We’re proud of the positive environment we’ve created and welcome questions from elders and their families.

    elder man enjoying a task

    Staying socially active provides many mental, emotional and physical benefits for older adults. One great way to foster this is by providing seniors with small daily or weekly tasks that help the community run smoothly. Whether it’s helping with cooking and meals or keeping the plants watered, simple senior tasks are good for older adults. 

    As a leading provider of senior living homes, it’s our experience that people who stay active tend to be happier and healthier. And there is plenty of research to back up this observation. Whether that is participating in a book club, gardening with friends or enjoying a day or night out on the town. We’ve also found that adding a few small tasks to the regular activities can deliver an additional boost to their well-being. 

    Many older adults are accustomed to taking care of their homes and completing daily tasks. Continuing this activity when they move into a senior living community can provide a sense of normalcy, integrate them into the social engagement of the community and add physical activity and purpose to their days. 

    Benefits of Having Elders Take on Regular Tasks

    While social interaction of any kind is good for older adults, having a few tasks on their daily or weekly to-do list is especially helpful. Senior tasks might include assisting with food preparation, setting the table for meals or other simple assignments around the community. These activities benefit residents in senior living homes in many ways, including that they provide:

    • A regular physical and mental workout. Committing to a task produces a positive feeling of obligation that may keep an older adult more active than optional social events. Knowing others are counting on you adds a little incentive to get the job done.

    • A sense of purpose. Having a to-do list provides a reason to get involved that is greater than themselves which is good for older adults both mentally and physically. We all like to know that the work we perform is helpful to others.

    • A feeling of accomplishment. Completing even a small task produces an enjoyable sense of pride in the work they have done. The good feeling from accomplishing tasks has the opportunity to lift spirits and bring energy to the day.

    • Inspiration to other residents. Residents who see the satisfaction their peers get from lending a helping hand are often motivated to get involved themselves.

    • A source of stories. The tasks a senior takes on can be a great source for interesting and funny stories to share with other residents, staff and family members.

    • Comfort to family and friends. Knowing that a loved one is an active participant in their community shows that they are engaged and involved which makes everyone feel more at ease knowing they are in a real community setting

    An Environment of Ongoing Growth and Meaningful Lives

    Young people or seniors, we all want our lives to have meaning. At Green House Homes, helping residents maintain their sense of purpose and contribution to the greater good is one of our primary goals. Learning about our residents with personal interactions helps us understand what activities might be appropriate and enjoyable for each person. With this knowledge, we can involve our residents in the many small tasks involved in keeping our community running smoothly. The result is a positive sense of participation that puts a smile on their face and on the faces of friends and loved ones who know how important this sense of connection is. It is a unique approach to senior care, and one that gets rave reviews from residents, staff and families alike.