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Should Your Loved One Be on a Nursing Home Waitlist?
Marissa Salvesen

By: Marissa Salvesen on April 14th, 2016

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Should Your Loved One Be on a Nursing Home Waitlist?

Aging & Caregiving

nursing home wait listIt’s hard to think about the ones we love getting older and losing their independence, but it’s a fact of life for millions of Americans. And while assisted living is a particularly sought-after means of aging in place, the transition to a nursing home, or skilled nursing facility, is sometimes an inevitable course of action to ensure the ongoing health and wellbeing of aging adults. Unfortunately, at the time of greatest need, securing a spot in a nursing home for your aging loved one may be harder than you think. Let’s take a closer look at this growing problem, and see why getting on a waiting list at a skilled nursing facility is such a smart solution.

Fewer Beds, More People?

The massive Baby Boomer population is growing at a staggering rate. In fact, the number of Americans between the age of 55 and 64 is expected to skyrocket by 73 percent in the two decades between 2000 and 2020.

Factor in the reality that Americans enjoy better health than in the past and are living longer than ever before, and experts agree that the healthcare system is poised for a major shortfall of everything from labor to housing.

How much so? According to a CDC National Survey of Residential Care Facilities survey, 29% of senior housing communities currently have admissions waiting lists. And as the aging population continues to grow, demand for housing will grow in accordance.

The Waiting List Solution

The unfortunate reality is that many aging seniors remain stuck in inadequate or even dangerous living situations while waiting for nursing home beds. All evidence suggests that this situation will worsen before it gets better.

While the need for skilled nursing care for your aging loved one may seem far-off now, joining at least three waitlists is an easy yet effective way to plan ahead if and when your loved one’s care needs change. While a nursing home may not seem like the right fit for your loved one at this point in time, it may be the best or only option in the future.

And while joining one waitlist still leaves you with uncertainties about the possibility of a bed opening up when you need it, joining at least three waitlists exponentially increases the chances of the timing working out in your favor, especially at a preferred facility. Seek out your preferred facilities now and inquire about placement on their waiting lists to ensure your loved one will be able to receive care in a facility you trust. Applying for a waitlist sooner, rather than later, helps individuals and families avoid sacrificing quality care because of an immediate need.

Schedule a tour at a few skilled nursing facilities that have a strong reputation in your community for providing high quality care. When you find a few facilities you like, be sure to inquire about the waiting lists at each and ask if someone can help you through the process for joining the waitlist. Joining a wait list in no way requires you to accept an opening if it’s offered, but it does put the power of choice in your hands. And while knowing when it’s time to make the change to a nursing home can be difficult, the opening of a space can also be a valuable time to check in with your aging loved one’s care needs.

Your loved one may never need skilled nursing care, or at some point, an immediate care need may require a change of plans. Joining multiple waitlists offers a simple way to avoid feelings of powerlessness, maintain control, and make the most informed decisions if and when your aging loved one requires more intensive care.

You have car insurance just in case of an accident. You plan ahead for something that may never happen. In the same way, plan ahead for your aging loved one when it comes to skilled nursing care.

Key Takeaways

  • As the population continues to age, demand for a variety of types of senior housing continues to increase.
  • While a skilled nursing facility may not be the right fit for your aging loved one at this point in time, it’s impossible to predict how things might change in the future.
  • To increase your chances of finding an open bed at a preferred facility, join multiple waitlists and consider taking a tour.
  • At a time in life where many things feel outside your control, joining several waitlists offers invaluable peace of mind.


About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.