Giving Care: Senior & Disabled Caregiver Resource Blog

When is it Time for a Nursing Home? 8 Key Signs

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Making the decision to move a loved one into a nursing home can be a difficult choice. Living independently can become challenging for many older people, as well as for their family members and caregivers who help care for them. 

Assisted nursing home care  offers daily on-site support, nursing home clothing, and adaptive equipment that many elderly people are not able to receive with home care. 

In this blog post, we discuss indicators to consider when you are thinking of moving an aging parent to a long-term care home. 

Recognizing the Need for Enhanced Care

Physical Health Indicators

Certain physical changes are expected with age and are considered normal, such as decreased balance or hearing. However, this can shift from common to concerning behavior when you begin noticing an older family member falling more often or struggling to walk up and down the stairs. This can signal the need to move from an assisted living facility to a nursing facility.

A skilled nursing home will be designed for a safer environment and easier mobility. These living facilities may also have on-site physical therapists and occupational therapists to help your loved one regain some strength and balance.  

Mental and Emotional Well-Being

Behavioral shifts are often a red flag for older adults. Mood swings, forgetfulness and isolation are all changes that should be taken seriously. Assisted living communities are created to help manage these emotional concerns. There’s also Alzheimer’s clothing options that can help prevent patients taking their clothes off.

Skilled nursing staff are trained in memory care and emotional needs that can help alleviate some of these symptoms. Care homes also offer enhanced social environments where your loved one can spend time with other nursing home residents and re-establish a sense of community and daily companionship. 

Daily Living Challenges and Adaptive Solutions

Mobility and Accessibility Concerns

Slowing down is expected as we age but there are telltale signs of daily living struggles to pay attention to. Aging in place becomes concerning if your elder parent has difficulty using the stairs or reaching for something in a kitchen cabinet. 

Declining strength and mobility can limit your loved one’s freedom in their own home. Assisted living facilities are designed to accommodate these accessibility concerns and therefore enhance your loved one’s daily experience.  

Personal Hygiene and Self-Care Struggles

Another noticeable change in an older family member is a shift in hygiene habits. This can be seen in a loved one who is usually well-kempt and dressed nicely but starts forgetting to comb their hair or begins wearing unlaundered clothing. 

Lapses in self-care are concerning. Staff at nursing homes are trained to help elderly patients maintain good hygiene and self-care so your family members will maintain a good quality of life. Senior clothing can also make a difference to make dressing easier.

Home Maintenance and Safety Issues

You may notice clues of age-related struggles that become obvious in the elder’s home, too. Dishes piling up in the sink or forgetting to turn off the oven are concerning things to note. 

Safety issues, such as house fires, are worrisome when these patterns begin. Unwashed dishes and unclean bathrooms can also create health problems. Nursing homes are trained in healthcare and disease control to help with these worries. 

When safety becomes a concern, you can feel good knowing you are making the right decision in considering senior care facilities. 

Nutritional and Dietary Changes

Another aging symptom to watch for is a change in dietary habits. While an aging family member may report they are eating regularly, their fridge may tell a different story. Spoiling food or a lack of fresh groceries are key indicators this person is not eating properly.

This is another concern. Often when people can no longer prepare their own food, grocery shop or even remember to eat, a daily intervention — such as assisted living — is necessary. 

The Role of Caregivers in Decision Making

Assessing the Caregiver’s Capacity

Caring for an aging parent can also impact your mental health. When challenges related to aging increase, so does the amount of caregiving responsibilities. Sometimes aging people need more support than personal care can provide. When this happens, a nursing home becomes the best daily living setting for both caregiver and loved one.

Balancing Emotional Connections and Practical Needs

It is common to experience guilt when considering moving an aging parent to a long-term care home. When this happens, it is important to assess the needs of your loved one and what you are able to provide for them. 

An in-home caregiver cannot always offer the necessary care that an elderly person needs. It is important to consider the best interests of your loved one when determining their best living options.  

Emotional and Psychological Factors of Senior Living

Coping with Change and Loss of Independence

Moving to a nursing home is one of the biggest life changes. For many people, the loss of independence can be disappointing. Try to encourage your loved one to focus on the positive outcomes of moving to a long-term care home. Social interactions with other residents will alleviate any prior isolation. Regularly prepared meals, skilled nursing care and other perks are all daily benefits to look forward to. 

Addressing Caregiver Stress and Burnout

Caring for a loved one is a huge responsibility that has both physical and mental effects. Lifting an aging parent for toileting or dressing can result in injury to the caregiver. The demands around scheduling care and time spent caregiving can also become overwhelming. 

It’s important to take these factors into consideration, too, when deciding on when it is time to move to a nursing home.

Planning the Transition to a Nursing Home

Conversations with Loved Ones

Moving to a nursing home is an emotional process. It is important to be honest with your loved one and make them feel safe during this conversation. Wait until you can talk in a place where they feel most comfortable. Help them feel secure by establishing eye contact and friendly body language. 

It can be helpful to create talking points in advance so that emotions do not change the course of the discussion. To help your aging family member feel more comfortable, try to explain the benefits of moving to a memory care facility, such as friendships with residents and arranged meals. 

Be prepared for the older person to be emotional. Try to understand and sympathize with their feelings, which can help avoid too much push back. 

Evaluating and Selecting the Right Facility

There are many types of long-term care facilities. Some nursing homes are needs-based, such as a memory care facility, while others are known for social programming, outstanding health care or other benefits. 

You can begin by making a list of the priorities you want addressed for your aging family member. Read reviews and research each nursing home that is being considered. Once your list is narrowed down, it is important to visit each residence so that you can get a feel for the people and environment. 

Moving an aging loved one to a nursing home is a significant life change that affects many people. It won’t be possible to please each family member or friend. Remember that you are doing what is best for your aging parent or loved one. Try to focus on the likes and dislikes of the person who will be moving into the long-term care home and best match where you think they will be happiest. This will also help family members feel more secure in the decision, too. 

You can help make the transition to an assisted living home easier by arranging special items for your loved ones to bring. Discover the top items nursing home residents need and how to help them feel more comfortable in a long-term care facility.

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