How to Find Quality Elder Care


When the time comes for us to place parents and loved ones in nursing or assisted living care, our first concern is safety. We all know that elder abuse is an ugly reality that we cannot ignore. In fact, according to the National Council on Aging, elder abuse affects as much as ten percent of the population older than 60, and many cases go unreported – as many as 13 of every 14 instances.

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased isolation in nursing homes, making our elderly population increasingly vulnerable. What can we do to be sure we’re finding a quality nursing home or residential care for our loved one.

Choosing a Nursing Home

A great resource titled Your Guide for Choosing a Nursing Home is provided by Medicare. It explains how to find and compare nursing homes and other long-term services and supports and provides a checklist for comparing facilities as you go through the process.

The following steps can help you investigate a facility’s quality of care.  

  • Ask your doctor if/where he or she provides care and if they recommend the facility.
  • Visit to compare the ratings, programs, and levels of care at nursing homes in your area of interest.
  • Call your Long-Term Care Ombudsman. To find their contact information, go to

A Long-Term Care Ombudsman advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, assisted living facilities, and other adult care facilities. They work to resolve residents’ problems and to bring about changes at the local, state, and national levels that will improve residents’ care and quality of life. These duties include: ■ Visiting nursing homes and speaking with residents throughout the year to make sure residents’ rights are protected ■ Working with you to solve problems with your nursing home care, including financial issues ■ Discussing general information with you about nursing homes, resident’s rights, and care ■ Answering questions, like how many complaints they’ve gotten about a specific nursing home, what kind of complaints they were, and if the issues were resolved in a timely manner The ACL supports the National Ombudsman Resource Center, which has contact information for each States’ Long-Term Care Ombudsman. To get the contact information for your local ombudsman program office, use the Eldercare Locator at or visit

You can find the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or visit

Check Out Quality of Care

  • Call your state health department or state licensing agency. Look in the blue pages in the phone book or on the internet. Ask for written reports on the quality of care given in local nursing homes. You can also ask for a copy of the full survey or the last complaint investigation report.
  • Look at survey findings (CMS Form 2567) for the facility. They can be found on Nursing Home Compare at and in the nursing home.
  • Ask to look at the nursing home’s grievance procedure and their record of grievances.
  • Ask about the kind of ongoing training the staff receives. Being a successful certified nursing assistant requires a great deal of knowledge. To successfully deal with patients, co-workers, it’s vitally important that CNAs stay aware of the latest information on medical advancements, wellness, and patient care. This is why continuing education is a legal requirement of doing the job. Continuing education helps keep nursing assistants up to date on many critical, ever-changing subjects including:
    • Personal and patient safety
    • Data collection and reporting
    • Mental health care
    • Infectious disease

These steps can help you assess the home’s environment and fit for your loved one’s medical needs and lifestyle preferences.

Visit the nursing home and assess the quality of care, services, environment, food, patient well-being. Make an appointment when you visit, but also visit again without an appointment.

  • Ask to see menus.
  • Find out who the house doctor is.
  • Is transportation provided to community events?
  • Check out the types of therapy offered.
  • Ask about the patient/CNA ratio.
  • Ask about ongoing staff training.
  • Request violation reports.
  • Are adequate public spaces provided?
  • How do residents access mental health services?
  • Are doors and windows secured?
  • Do residents’ rooms have adequate space?
  • Are rehabilitation services available?
  • Is skilled nursing provided?
  • Does the facility provide access to health specialists? How are they accessed?
  • Is the decor appealing, and is the facility well-maintained?
  • Are chapel services and recreational and social opportunities provided?

One Size Does Not Fit All

Other suggestions include asking people whose opinions you trust about the quality and reputation of various care facilities. However, keep in mind that just because a friend recommends a nursing home doesn’t mean it will be the right fit for your loved one, who may prefer more privacy, more social opportunities, or a quiet reading library. And be sure to ask residents what they like most and least about living where they live. You can almost always trust them to express their honest opinions.

And be sure to download a copy of the checklist available at

Remember, every caregiving situation is unique and reflect unique families and needs. Make the best decision you can, based upon the best information you can gather. No situation will be perfect and no choice has to be forever. Choose as wisely as you can, and give yourself grace.

We’d love to hear from you. What helped you assist your love as they transitioned to a care facility? Tell us about it.


The Importance of Self-Reflection

Sometime life is just plain hard. 2020 is not going to be ranked in my personal history as one of my favorite years. The most difficult challenges I faced involved personal relationships. I was pretty much a mess, struggling to know what to do as God patiently waited for me to get a clue and listen.

I finally stopped imagining retakes of conversations and faced the hard truth. The only thing that would help move me forward and grow was self-reflection: focusing on my own thoughts, decisions, emotions, and behaviors. I found this both ironic and humbling as a woman who’d published a book about self-talk. But apparently writing a book on a topic did not mean the author had mastered the content for life. Ahem.

Why self-reflection?

Our humanness makes us blind to our greatest flaws. Self-reflection—particularly the habit of self-reflection—increases our intimacy with God, helps us make better decisions, deepens our self-awareness, increases our awareness and respect for others, and helps us make wiser, biblically-aligned responses.

Self-reflection helps us transition from reactionary living to responsive living and from purposeless decisions to biblical, purpose-driven decisions.It gives us purposeful, intentional time to sit alone with God and ask Him questions about our life, our relationships, and carrying out His purpose in our lives.

Qualities of Self-Reflection: Openness, Observation, and Objectivity

A number of my friends exhibit the qualities of self-reflection. But I also observe confidence, calm, and a Spirit-driven curiosity for others in these same individuals. I believe that the qualities/practices listed below, in conjunction with the regular practice of self-reflection, beget additional positive character qualities and attributes as self-awareness increases.


Openness is described as the ability to see things for what they are, not what we want them to be or think them to be. It’s the ability to view and judge ourselves the same way we look at and judge others—with perspective and non-emotional distance. This requires enormous honesty and hard work.

My openness, thank God, was the key in the lock that opened the door to self-revelation for me. Openness allowed me the opportunity to honesty observe myself and, ultimately, take responsibility for my part in the relational issues that had been troubling me. This ultimately led to healing.

We ‘re not aware of our own biases and stereotypes. And we all are guilty of implicit bias; it’s impossible not to grow up in a culture and not regard that culture as our yardstick for safety, worth, and value. Neuroscience supports this view.

We must be open and willing to search our hearts and examine our part in conflict or tension. Openness means we’re willing to honestly explore our actions, words, and motives.


I wrestled for weeks and months trying to identify my source/s of offense. Then I spoke with a dear friend and counselor who kindly advised me: “It’s not what you say, Shelly. It’s how what you say sounds to someone else.”

In an instant, I perceived my words in a different light. I could see where I was responsible and what I needed to say.

Observation is the ability to observe yourself the way you observe external events and others: with perspective and distance. When we observe, we focus on what drives our decisions and behaviors. When I wrote my apology, I was able to include what had driven my behavior because self-reflection had revealed it to me. Now I’m able to discover it in my self-talk before it comes out my mouth. And even more importantly, I’ve been able to trace the source and pull it out by the roots.


One of the most difficult aspects of self-reflection for me is objectivity: the ability to separate your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors from your identity. Aspects of my childhood deeply influenced a false sense of my identity. I grew up thinking that my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, as well as other people’s perceptions of me, were my identity. Because part of my identity included my behavior, I worked very hard to be good.

However, as a woman who found my identity in Christ, I learned to question those thoughts and replaced them with objective truth. I am who God says I am. I practice self-reflection because, although my identity is secure, I mess up. Self-reflection gives me the insight I need to grow in Christ, heal wounds, build bridges, and live free. Without self-reflection, I remain trapped in my deceptive self-talk.

The really good news is that as we regularly practice self-reflection, it becomes engrained in our nature. We find ourselves “listening in” to our thoughts and evaluating what we say and do before we say or do it.

What about you? Do you practice self-reflection? If so, how have you used it as a tool of self-growth? I’d love to hear from you.


Just for Laughs: Alien TV

Photo Credit: Unsplash: Kraken Images

This weekend a found a Netflix cartoon show that I found hysterically funny. I tend to view most cartoons these days with skepticism because of their propaganda-related, culturally acceptable  adult agendas. This show was, however, a refreshing exception. And in these days of “Covid fatigue,” we all need laughter.

I was delighted that a three-year-old, six-year-old, eight-year-old, and two grandparents all found it equally funny. So much so, in fact, that we watched five episodes in a row before Mom and Dad came home and our babysitting ended.

So what show made me laugh so much that I decided to recommend it?  Netflix’s Alien TV, featuring three bumbling visitors from outer space who are sent to earth on missions to investigate bicycles, gymnastics, camping, arcades, supermarkets, and other mysteries, and report back to their planet. Ixbee, Pixby, and Squee speak in a gibberish language that alone makes me laugh as they make inept efforts to unravel the complexities of life on earth.

If you’re looking for a cartoon for a kid (old or young) who needs a laugh, Alien TV is my recommendation. And if you’re fighting Covid exhaustion, sit down for thirty minutes with Ixbee, Pixby, and Squee.

Fear? God’s Got This

Photo Credit: Storyblocks

The first half of the year 2020 has brought new fears and worries to most of us. New U.S. Census Bureau and National Center for Health statistics published last week by show that compared with the same period last year, those suffering from anxiety and depression have seen their symptoms more than triple: From eight percent in 2019 to 28 percent (anxiety), from six percent to 24.4 percent (depression), and from 11 percent to almost 34 percent for both. 

Fear isn’t new to me. I’ll admit that, like many of us, I like to be in control. But if we’re honest, we have to admit that we don’t really control anything.

  • I couldn’t do a thing about the water creeping from the creek toward my house during torrential rains a few days ago.
    • I couldn’t control my daughter Jessica’s health or the aftershocks when she was on Nias Island right after the Indonesian tsunami.
    • On days when my health is bad, I can’t control the symptoms of my chronic disease.
    • I can’t control politicians.
    • I can’t even control my breathing because God has created miraculous processes that make my breathing and body systems work. He didn’t create us and then make us responsible for orchestrating the millions of processes that must operate together. (Thank You, God!)

Many worriers like me have a hard time falling asleep at night. Our minds race making lists, planning our next day, ruminating over our bitterness, and worrying about things we can’t control. Here’s a simple truth that will change your life.

God says, “I’ve got this.” We are not responsible for figuring everything out. In fact, living life ‘in charge’ is actually sin. Proverbs 3:5 says it simply: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
God says, “I’ve Got This. Close your eyes and go to sleep. Give your cares to me. Rest your head in peace.”
Click the link for I’ve Got This above. Then click on the Preview arrow to hear the song, performed by Steve Siler, Founder and Director of Perhaps you know someone who may need this song today.

Is Your Loved One’s Care Facility Safe?

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The Problem

Across America, a growing number of elderly people residing in nursing homes have died from COVID-19 exposure since the shutdown was ordered. In New York alone, 5,433 elderly long-term care facility residents were reported dead. This news came after Governor Cuomo oreded such facilities to admit COVID-19 patients. This bears the question for any of us who have loved ones in care facilities: “Are My Elderly Loved Ones Safe?” 

Many elder care facilities with track records of poor care across the nation are now operating with much less oversight because of COVID-19. The pandemic has added to pre-existing problems: financial need, understaffing (employees quitting or becoming ill), and poorly paid employees. 

  • More than 40% of California’s COVID-19-related deaths are estimated to come from nursing homes. 
  • 43% of US COVID deaths occur in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 
  • While just 11 percent of the country’s cases have occurred in long-term care facilities, deaths related to Covid-19 in these facilities account for more than a third of the country’s pandemic fatalities.
  • In 14 states, the number of residents and workers who have died account for more than half of all deaths from the virus. Nursing homes aren’t getting commensurate funds, resources, or federal support to compensate for COVID’s devastation. “Nursing-home residents aren’t getting half of our resources or half of our attention, yet they account for roughly half the deaths,” stated David Grabowski. This, he said, reveals—or maybe reinforces—a devastating truism about American society: “We don’t value their lives [the elderly’s] as much as other people’s.

Complicating Factors

  • On March 23, the federal government ordered state inspectors to halt in-depth annual inspections to minimize the spread of the virus and focus on hot spots and infection control. 
  • Long-term care ombudsmen, who normally field complaints and advocate for nursing home residents’ needs, were told to stop entering all facilities beginning March 16.
  • With limited exceptions, family members who provide emotional and physical support as well as careful oversight, haven’t been inside facilities for even longer.  

This leaves care facility residents who are already extremely vulnerable to abuse and neglect — as well as to the ravages of the coronavirus — effectively cut off from the people tasked with protecting them, advocates say.


  1. Gather Personal Recommendations.
    Ask friends, pastors, doctors, nurses, therapists, frequent visitors, etc., for recommendations. 
  2. Conduct research. 

    Check for complaints and violations by going to the Nursing Home Compare website provided by Medicare. 

    Contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s office in your area. The mission of this agency, which operates under the Older Americans Act, is to protect the rights and well-being of people who reside in long-term care facilities, including skilled nursing facilities. The Ombudsman’s office also records information related to quality of care, inspections, violations of standards and regulations, as well as citations, fines, and follow-up resolution of areas of concern. 

    ProPublica also offers an online tool to investigate the inspection/violation records of long term care facilities. This tool lists skilled nursing facilities in each state, allowing healthcare consumers to compare the records of facilities in their area quickly and easily.
  3. Visit as often as you can.

    Ask questions. How often is your loved one bathed? Do they have complaints of being ignored? What is the staff to resident ratio? Is staff provided with protective gear? Are residents being tested for COVID-19, and are state protocols being followed? Ask to see records for verification. Ask about the facility’s means of communication with family regarding COVID updates and general health information. Talk to county Health Department officials who track COVID numbers at your loved one’s facilities.

    Observe. Is the facility clean? Are the residents clean? Are caretakers clean? Can you smell odors? Do residents look happy. How is food handled? Are employees wearing masks and gloves and protecting residents from exposure? What is your loved one’s general mental and physical health? Are they involved with social activities?

    If you can’t be physically present, ask someone to be your eyes and ears for you.

Arming ourselves with information and taking proactive steps is the best way to protect loved ones who are incapable of advocating for themselves. Our vigilance on their behalf can be one of our greatest gifts of love.


Mother’s Day Secret Tears

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

This Mother’s Day I want to acknowledge the countless women across our nation who dread this day for many reasons: abandonment, abuse, adoption, abortion, and other often-hidden secrets. My thoughts today are especially with women who’ve undergone the heartbreak of abortion. A survey sponsored by CareNet in 2015 verified that more than 4 out of 10 women who’ve had abortions were churchgoers when they had their procedures.

This statistic should cause Christians to ask serious questions about where the church is missing the mark in meeting the needs of women and teens during crisis pregnancies. It’s important for us to understand that we may simultaneously be pro-life and compassionately listen to, support, and grieve with women who have experienced abortion.

I’m staunchly pro-life, but the term includes pouring life into suffering people. A large percentage of women (and men who’ve fathered aborted children) attend churches and Bible studies with us and silently bear the burden of past abortions. For them, Mother’s Day can resurrect pain too excruciating to talk about and shame they think is impossible to escape.

I know many committed Christian women who are burdened with regret and shame about past abortions. Some were forced to abort their child by parents or other people in positions of power over them. Others sought abortions in desperation in their early lives. But all silently suffer ongoing grief, even decades later.

We are also surrounded by men and women who are not believers who carry shame and grief from this painful decision in their past. Loving others as God loves us includes opening arms of compassion to them.

In my 50+ years as a Jesus follower, I do not remember hearing comfort offered in church on Mother’s Day to mothers or fathers who had experienced the loss of a child to abortion. Since this has been my experience,I’d like to offer a few words today.  

  • Jesus sees your hidden hurt and weeps with you. He offers comfort, hope and healing.
  • Through Him, what we think is ruined can be redeemed and used.
  • Satan’s goal is to keep you chained to the past through regret. Jesus’s love and forgiveness sets you free.
  • God’s mercy is great enough to forgive you and heal your scars.
  • The weight of your fear-driven choices can be lifted. God forgives you. Your child is safe in His arms.
  • God knows your past, present, and future. You are not unqualified, less than, a failure, or shameful. If you have a personal relationship with him, your sin is in the past and under the blood of Jesus. He wants you to walk joyfully in His plan and purpose for you.
  • If you are in a ‘shaming’ church body, find a nurturing, Bible-teaching church that loves as Jesus loved.

If you or someone you know who would be blessed by a resource for men and women touched by abortion, I recommend two resources from The first is Mercy Great Enough, an entire project for those who are experiencing abortion grief. The second is a song called Heaven’s Playground, that offers hope about our pre-born children in heaven.

For more encouragement, check here:

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association


Planned from the Start (devotional book)

Please let me know if this blog ministers to you or someone you know. I’d love to hear from you.

With love,


Precious Lord, Take My Hand

by Shelly Beach

Photo Credit: Unsplash

In the past weeks our nation has faced extraordinary challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to tackle roles and realities we never imagined. We’ve become barbers, beauticians, manicurists, cooks, activity directors, caregivers, foragers, and chemists. Parents now work at home as teachers while fighting to remain employed and negotiate their relationship with their spouse 24/7.


Millions of Americans are now unemployed. Many who are still working are trying to carry the loads of staff that has been let go. And tragic numbers of business owners are watching their businesses slowly die.

We’re confined to our homes, hoping and praying we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from the plague that has decimated our “normal.” We’ve planned vacations, weddings, respite breaks, anniversary celebrations, graduations, “firsts” and “lasts.” But instead, spring finds us outside with shrouded faces clutching antiseptic potions.

Tomorrow I’ll venture out for the third time in seven days to try to find a package of toilet paper that costs less than my first car. Of course, I exaggerate, but what does it mean to find pride of ownership in toilet paper? How our priorities have shifted.

The perfect storm

Clinical psychological scientists at the University of Washington’s Center for the Science of Social Connection state that Covid-19 presents a “perfect storm of depression risks… Depression lays waste to our capacity to problem-solve, set and achieve goals and function effectively.” The Covid-19 crisis has created a unique set of circumstances that contribute to depression: stress and loss, interpersonal isolation, financial difficulties, and challenges to recovery.

Many of us feel overwhelmed. Where do we turn? What do we do? Will we ever re-capture the “normal” we once had? Where do we find strength to move forward in the middle of chaos?

Photo Credit” Pexels

Human limitation

The most important truth for us to recognize in any crisis has nothing to do with how much information we can gain or control we think we can muster. We will always be ambushed by human limitations and flawed hearts. Left to ourselves, we head off on our own path without God.

Covid-19 illustrates our limited human intellect, self-driven motives, and the resulting complex problems of our fallen world.

Unfortunately, the next pandemic or global crisis is not a matter of if but a matter of when.

We cannot rely on national or even church leadership for security. Our only hope lies in our all-powerful, all-knowing God who promises to carry us through any circumstance. He was with us when we drew our first breath. He is the mystery behind our beating heart. He walks beside us, ready to take our hand. But we must acknowledge his loving presence and power. Without God, we have no hope.

God’s strength is our strength in this and every crisis.

Precious, Lord, Take My Hand.

Click on the link above to hear the song Precious Lord, Take My Hand, written by Steve Siler, founder and Executive Director of Music for the Soul. Scroll down the page to Precious Lord, Take My Hand and click on the arrow following the word Preview >.

When has God walked beside you in a time of crisis? I’d love to hear from you.

Describe your experience in a short paragraph or two. Or tell us how he is walking beside you through the Covid-19 crisis.



You are Not Alone

by Shelly Beach

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

I recently spoke at a camp in California when the coronavirus pandemic was beginning to escalate. My anxiety soared whenever I thought about fulfilling four weeks of commitments and appointments in California. I wasn’t even sure if airports would still be open in 30 days.

I was far from home and fought feelings of isolation. My husband and son’s family were in Iowa. My daughter’s family lives just north of Seattle. My brother’s family resides north of Detroit. It was easy to tell myself I could be trapped in California. Should I make a plan? Cancel my plans and make a run for it? What would that even look like?

I stood on the balcony of my room the final night of the retreat, drinking in the beauty of the trees and wondering what to do. I leaned on the railing, and my eyes traced the angles and offshoots of the myriad branches on a tree. As I noted the complexity of that single tree, the truth hit me.

God knows every crook in every branch of that tree. He designed each branch and bough before he created the universe. He knows every limb and twig and crook and knot in every tree on the planet.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

That one tiny truth about God’s greatness stunned me for a moment. But it also comforted me.

God is not sitting in the heavens far away. He’s not waiting for us to make a plan and get things “right.” We will never get things right in our own power. Heartache and abandonment and loss and disappointment will tap us on the shoulder every day. That’s why God became a man, stepped into a human body, and chose to suffer—so we would never be alone. There is no darkness too deep that he would not go for us.

You are not alone. Jesus never leaves your side. When you can’t believe in hope, he is your hope.

Be blessed by the song “You Are Not Alone.” Click on the link or the title below. Then click the word Preview on the song page.

You Are Not Alone

Words and music by Steve Siler



Caregiving Tips During COVID

Photo image: Shutterstock

I was in San Francisco, thousands of miles from home, when Covid-19 first escalated. My thoughts immediately turned to those who relied on me for care. Then to the reality that I was in the “higher risk” category for people who might contract the virus.

What was I supposed to do? What kinds of plans should I set into motion “in case”? How could I best protect my loved ones and myself? I began to scramble to find answers.

The following information has been adapted from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention. Most information applies generally to in-home family caregivers. Those caring for loved ones with dementia must remember that although dementia most likely does not increase the likelihood of infection, those with dementia are less able to protect themselves from the coronavirus; for instance, to wash their hands and comply with social distancing and other recommendations. For this reason, caregivers are responsible for extra diligence on behalf or loved ones with dementia.

General Tips

  • Reinforce regular hand-washing and hygiene.
  • Make arrangements for long-term drug refills.
  • Isolate your loved one. Don’t allow them to go out of the house, and don’t allow visitors in. Keep track of any and all people who come into their presence in a notebook (date, name, time, duration of stay).
  • Think ahead. Make alternative care plans for the person with dementia. Include adult care, therapies, respite, etc. that might be modified or cancelled in response to COVID-19.
  • Make arrangements for an alternate caregiver in case the primary caregiver becomes sick.
  • Ask if your loved one’s health care provider/s offer telehealth appointments.
  • Stay updated daily about COVID-related information.
  • Prepare a list of contact numbers: healthcare providers, family, friends, neighbors, drivers, teachers, employers, health department, and community resources.
  • Watch for symptoms.
Photo: Unsplash, Glenn Carstens-Peters

Household Checklist

  • Stay updated daily about COVID-related information.
  • Ask neighbors and friends about their plans and availability to help if needed.
  • Prepare a list of local and online support organizations that can provide resources and information.
  • Take preventative steps:
    • Hand washing
    • Social distancing
    • Disinfecting surfaces
    • Avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth
    • Staying at home
    • Limiting contact with others

Preparation to be sick

  • Acquire a thermometer, fever meds, gloves, masks, gowns or robes, fluids that contain electrolytes
  • Consider the unique care needs or your loved one. Do they require oxygen? Assistance to eat? Therapies and treatments? How would you accommodate them during an illness or quarantine?
  • Prepare an isolation room in case someone becomes sick.
  • Consult the CDC HOUSE CHECKLIST for a detailed list for preparing your home.

The healing power of music

Music has the power to lift spirits, stir recall, and stimulate interaction. According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, music can “shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function and coordinate motor movements.” Play your loved one’s favorites: hymns, show tunes, big band, country-western—whatever they love. Music can be a positive influence in healing.

What about you?

How can we encourage others as we pull together during this soul-stretching challenge? Personally, I lean into the power of prayer and my faith in a personal, loving God. I also prepare in practical ways, while making time for people.

What about you? How are you preparing? And what are you doing to remaining positive along the way? I’d love to hear from you.

Blessings and prayers,