5 Reasons It’s Time To Start Speaking To A Nursing Home

When researching or discussing senior care, the term “nursing home” may come to mind most readily. In fact, many people use this phrase to describe all types of senior living. However, services available today are much more varied and complex: In a survey of A Place for Mom (APFM) users, only 11% of families who contacted APFM about nursing homes ended up deciding that was the right type of care for their loved one.

When is it time for a nursing home, instead of a different senior living option, like assisted living? Nursing homes, also called skilled nursing facilities or convalescent homes, may be the right choice for seniors with a high level of daily needs or health concerns. Asking yourself these six questions can help determine if your senior loved one would benefit from this highly specialized and intensive care type, along with when to recommend a nursing home for your relative.

1. Are They Recovering From An Injury, Stroke, Or Surgery?

Though many seniors live in a skilled nursing facility long-term, they may also go to a nursing home temporarily to recover from a major health event. In these cases, seniors and their families may select a nursing home instead of in-home rehabilitation if they want more frequent care or believe they’ll achieve better results.

While in-home rehab programs typically encompass two or three days of treatment a week, skilled nursing facilities differ by giving seniors access to therapies five to six days a week. Skilled nursing staff will also carefully determine when it’s safe to discharge your family member. On average, short-term rehabilitation stays in nursing homes last four to six weeks, though care plans can vary widely.

2. You Are Feeling Constantly Drained.

When it’s your sole responsibility to care for an elderly parent, you will likely experience a general drain of energy. It can be very exhausting to take care of a loved one while knowing they can no longer do it themselves.

Making the decision to place a family member in a nursing home care can be a guilt-ridden one, but it’s important to remind yourself that it’s for the best. Additionally, if you are unhappy, your mood will probably trickle into the interactions that you have with your loved one, which isn’t good for anyone. You can’t be helpful to them if you’re unable to focus on yourself too.

Of course, just because you can’t care for them alone doesn’t mean that at-home care is out of the question! There are still many options to consider, such as an at-home caregiver. A personal caregiver can be a great solution in many cases because it alleviates the need to give your elderly parent more care and attention, while still allowing them more autonomy and relieving you of personal responsibility.

3. Do They Have A Complex, Progressive, Or Cognitive Health Condition?

Seniors with complex, chronic illnesses, such as cancer and diabetes, progressive conditions, like muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s, or advanced cognitive diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, may require nursing home care. It often depends on the level of care they need to manage their conditions and the number of challenges they face. For example, does your loved one need catheters, IV drips, a ventilator, or other specialized medical care? This may help families and caregivers decide when to put a loved one in a nursing home. Do they have complications from diabetes, or are they able to manage their blood sugar with limited help? The more assistance they need, the more likely it’s time to place a parent in a nursing home.

If your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, memory care is a growing and popular alternative to nursing homes. In these communities, the staff is trained to maximize the quality of life and decrease common, difficult dementia behaviors, such as anger, aggression, and confusion. 


4. You Don’t Live Nearby.

Even if you’re willing to stay with your aging parents and care for them, you may not have the ability to do it for extended periods. You have a life with family, friends, work, and personal time to consider too. It’s not necessarily realistic to drop everything at once for your loved one, as much as you may want to.

If your parents are at least self-sufficient, you may be able to entertain the option of an at-home caregiver. This way, your loved ones can receive the care they need at any time. This also gives you the ability to see your parents while maintaining the life you live independently from them.

5. Do They Need Access To 24-Hour Skilled Medical Care?

If the answer is yes, then it may be time to place your parents in a nursing home. Oftentimes, the need arises when health conditions have become too complex or debilitating for other, more moderate types of care.

For example, assisted living helps seniors with activities of daily living (ADLs), medication management, and some health treatments as needed. Nurses oversee care plans, aides provide care, and the community offers transportation to doctor’s appointments. But depending on the state and assisted living community, there are often care limits.

In contrast, a skilled nursing facility offers 24/7 access to medical care and supervision in addition to help with many ADLs. Care providers may include registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nurse assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and others. For families who need extra peace of mind, or seniors with unpredictable health issues, this round-the-clock care may prove to be crucial.