Step 1: Decide if a Nursing Home Is Necessary

If you can draw on good local resources, the best choice for now might not even be a nursing home.

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A geriatric care manager can be particularly helpful when you live far away but also can benefit anyone at a loss for good services for an aging loved one. You can search for one by ZIP Code on the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers website. Many clients arrange for an initial consultation to help determine the kind and level of care required and plug the family into local options, says Phyllis Brostoff, the group's president, and then call on them as needed. A consultation typically costs several hundred dollars; as-needed help generally costs from $80 to $200 per hour, depending on prevailing rates in the area.

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