Some people joke about living in a nursing home as they begin to age, but there comes a time when this becomes less of a funny comment and more of a serious option to consider.
Not everyone who is elderly needs to live in a nursing home. However, there are certain situations when this is the best possible option for the aging individual and their loved ones.
The thing is you have to know when is it time to put a loved one in a nursing home.
Putting one of your parents or grandparents in this situation too soon can cause tension on your relationship or make them feel less independent than they actually are. On the other hand, waiting too long can raise serious health and safety concerns, among other issues.
Here are 9 signs to consider when trying to decide if it’s time to find a nursing home for your loved one.
1. Safety at Home Becomes a Concern
Has your mom recently suffered a fall at home while no one was around? Can your grandpa still do simple tasks for himself like cook a decent meal or get up the steps on his own?
Living alone isn’t off limits for the elderly, but it can create a safety concern after a person reaches a certain age.
This is something to think about if you notice your loved one struggling to do basic everyday tasks or if they’ve needed emergency care to go to their home more than once.
2. The Home Is in Disarray
Maybe part of the reason there are safety concerns at the elderly individual’s home is because the house is a mess.
There could be a pile of dishes in the sink due to the fact that it’s become harder to stand for long periods of time or to bend over and use the dishwasher. Or, the yard might be a big mess because someone can’t mow the grass or tend to the garden anymore.
These might seem like small details, but they make a big difference. They’re signs that your parent/grandparent can’t do everything they used to be able to, and that they shouldn’t be living on their own.
3. Personal Hygiene Is Harder to Maintain
It’s one thing for the house to be a mess, but it’s an even bigger concern if personal hygiene has started to go.
Ask your loved one how often they shower/bathe and if they have trouble doing so by themselves. Talk to them about what they’re doing to be active around the house and if they have trouble getting out of bed or standing up from a seat.
Not everyone will be entirely forthcoming about these aging issues, but a bit of questioning on your end should tell you everything you need to know about their struggles maintaining personal hygiene.
4. Eating and Sleeping Habits Have Changed
Speaking of personal hygiene, talk about how eating and sleeping has been going lately. Do you notice your mom eating a lot of the same things because she can’t cook like she used to? Is your grandma irritable because she’s having trouble sleeping or needs to get up a lot in the middle of the night?
These aren’t things to just brush off or try to take on alone. They’re better to put in the hands of trained professionals in a nursing home who know how to help.
5. Mobility Changed
Another sign that it’s time to move someone into a nursing home is if their mobility has changed. This applies whether they’re using a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair. Maybe they still refuse to use any of these things but you can tell they’re not moving like they used to.
Living in a nursing home puts much less strain on the body.
It means that your loved one won’t have to worry about cleaning or cooking anymore and that enjoying themselves becomes much easier, too. They can relax a lot more and you can all worry less about their body’s strength to do everything.
6. Medication Isn’t Being Taken
This is one of the bigger red flags on the list. Medication isn’t something to mess around with. Some elderly people try to avoid their medication or they decide to stop taking it altogether without telling their loved ones or doctors.
This isn’t an option in a nursing home, though. Living in an assisted care facility means your loved one will have someone who makes sure they take all the medication they need. This gives you the peace of mind that he/she doesn’t do something to compromise their health or a treatment they’re undergoing.
7. Conditions Have Gotten Worse
There are all kinds of medications that elderly people begin to take. These range for simple things like vitamins and nutrients to more important medications like for chronic pain or serious illnesses. Even terminal conditions have medications to help make the inevitable less painful.
Still, treatment can’t solve everything. If your loved one’s health has gotten worse, this could be a sign they shouldn’t be living alone or even under your roof anymore. It’s better to have them where doctors and nurses are more easily accessible.
8. It’s Hard for the Family to Share the Load
Maybe the issue with moving your loved one into a nursing home isn’t that they’re set on living alone, but that it’s hard for the whole family to see them make this transition.
Think about it like this: it’s easier to have the peace of mind that your parent or grandparent is in good hands at a nursing home than to stress over how you and other family members are sharing the load of looking after them.
Even if you all have the best intentions of helping them around their house or welcoming them into your own, the absolute best place for them to be might actually be a nursing home.
This way, your loved one will always have the attention and support they need without you having to change your plans and way of life.
9. You’ve Already Tried At-Home Care
Professional at-home care is one way that families try to share the effort of looking after an elderly individual. This can help offset the need of moving into a nursing home for a while, but it doesn’t always solve everything.
You’ve likely noticed this first-hand if the at-home care your loved one has agreed to isn’t working like it used to. This isn’t to say it’s the care person’s fault, rather, that your loved one just needs more support.
A nursing home can offer that.
So, When Is It Time to Put a Loved One in a Nursing Home?
The thing is, there’s no definite answer to when is it time to put a loved one in a nursing home. Aging is different for every single person it affects and the resources/opinions of family members vary, too.
But when you know, you know. Even if it’s hard to convince your loved one that a nursing home is the right step, don’t give up on this matter. They’ll eventually come around when they realize all the support and genuine are available in such a community.
For more information about living in a nursing home and helping your loved one make the transition, click here.