Is It Time for a Nursing Home?
The decision to place your loved one in a nursing home might be one of the most difficult you ever make, but with open communication and understanding, you can be sure that the decision is based on what's best for everyone involved. The first step in the process is the simple question "is my loved one ready for a nursing home?" If this question has come up, then the time for the transition is probably closer than you think.
There are many warning signs that might lead you to begin to consider a nursing home. Some may be subtle and harmless, but others can be major and might cause great harm if not addressed. It is important to differentiate between the two and to be honest with yourself and your loved one about the potential for harm if her or she is left to continue self-care without the professional assistance afforded in a nursing home or assisted living community.
Signs to Look For
One such serious sign that it may be time to consider a nursing home is if your loved one experiences increasing lapses in memory or confusion when it comes to medications. Elderly people often rely on a number of medications for their very survival. Forgetting to take a daily pill or confusing two pills is common as the time for a nursing home approaches. The ramifications of such a lapse could be injury or even death, and so it is one of the most important signs to look for.
Another time for serious consideration of a nursing home might be after a precipitous decline in the physical well-being of your loved one. After a medical procedure or other medical crisis that has weakened the elderly person, it might not be practical for him or her to continue to go about daily business. The medical condition may need frequent monitoring, and with a decline in mental aptitude, this may prove to be impossible. Without effective monitoring, death or further decline is a risk. In such cases, a nursing home or convalescent care center may be needed.
Social and Physical Support
Depression and loneliness are perhaps not life-threatening, but they are certainly two other important reasons to look into nursing home care. It might be time to contemplate moving your loved one to a nursing home if he or she has become needy, lonely, or obviously depressed. If you or other family members are receiving persistent telephone calls or urgent and pressing requests for visits from an elderly relative, it may be an indication that the solitude of elderly life is beginning to take a toll. Placing your loved one in a home that offers community activities might be the answer.
Even if your loved one is mentally sound, a chronic physical ailment might make home care an impossibility - or at least prohibitively expensive. Nursing homes and care communities are options even for elderly people without any mental decline, and so a medical condition of this nature might mean that it's time to address the question and discuss it with your loved one.
In the end, the simplest way to phrase the question is this: "Will my loved one lead a more meaningful life in a nursing home?" This may mean many different things to different people, but it all comes down to whether life will simply be better with the daily assistance and community provided by a nursing home or care facility.
Please be sure to check out our nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect pages to inform yourself on these issues and keep your loved one safe. If you do encounter nursing home abuse you should contact a nursing home abuse lawyer immediately.
"CBS News -- When It's Time for a Nursing Home" 23 March 2002. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/03/21/earlyshow/saturday/main504334.shtml