As parents, grandparents, and other loved ones age, their family members are often faced with a difficult decision: whether or not it is time to place the person into nursing home care.  This already complex and emotional decision is further complicated by issues such as cost considerations, the variety of care options available, whether the person suffers from conditions like Alzheimer’s or frequent fall accidents, and how receptive the person is to the idea of entering a home.  At the end of the day, placement into elder care is a deeply personal decision which no one else can make for your family.  However, the consideration factors explained in this blog post can help you gauge what’s best for your loved one.

Reasons to Consider Nursing Home Care

Take a few moments to think back on your loved one’s general health and quality of life during the past several months.  What have you observed?  What, if anything, has given you pause or caused you alarm?

With these thoughts in mind, consider the following questions and try not to second-guess your instinctual answers.  Being honest with yourself and your loved one can be difficult, but remember it is all for the sake of protecting the health and safety of someone you care about.

Answering to the best of your knowledge, does your senior loved one:

  • Have trouble climbing and/or descending stairs, even when using a cane?
    • If the person has installed a stair lift in their home, does he or she struggle to get in and out of the lift with relative ease?
  • Frequently fall down while walking, moving between furniture, using the bathroom, and/or getting in and out of the shower?  
    • Frequent falls are one of the most common reasons families place elderly relatives into nursing homes, where they can be monitored and physically supported at any hour of the day or night.
  • Consistently forget to stay hydrated and/or take regular meals?  
    • All of us are guilty of occasionally ignoring proper nutrition due to being stressed, busy, or crunched for time — but consistent failure to eat and drink can result in serious dehydration and/or malnutrition.  These are both particularly dangerous problems for elderly individuals, who already have limited immune system function.
  • Ever forget to take his or her medication, even if it’s only on an occasional basis?
    • Is the medication for a life-threatening condition?
    • Does the person have more than one prescription?
  • Exhibit any signs of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s Disease? 
    • The Alzheimer’s Assocation reports one in three seniors, typically defined as someone 65 years of age or older, will develop Alzheimer’s or dementia.  As they progress, these conditions impair memory, judgment, logic, and decision-making, all of which can create an extremely dangerous situation.  What if the person forgets to turn off the oven after cooking a meal?  What if the person locks him- or herself out of their home during the winter?  Nursing homes can help prevent these risky situations from occurring.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it may be worth considering transitioning into a nursing home.  Use your best judgment, pay attention to your gut feelings, and consult with other friends and family members whom you are confident have the person’s best interest at heart.  How do they feel about the situation?  Have they experienced the same concerns?

While it’s important not to ignore your gut, you should also take the time to do your homework.  Research prospective homes carefully.  Some will have an excellent record of providing superior care, while others will be flagged for countless legal violations and even incidents of abuse or caregiver neglect.  Spend some time using the free federal Medicare Compare tool to get a detailed view of how homes in your area measure up against each other.

consider options

Alternative Options: Assisted Living and Adult Day Care

Keep in mind that nursing homes are not the only care option available for seniors.  If a nursing home seems a bit “extreme” for your loved one’s situation, but he or she still needs some light assistance and supervision which is beyond the scope of what you can readily provide, they may be the perfect candidate for alternative options like assisted living or adult day care.

As we covered in a previous entry, there are many significant differences between nursing homes and assisted living.  Assisted living caters primarily to younger seniors, such as those in the 55-65 year old age range, who do not suffer from serious medical issues like Alzheimer’s Disease or advanced diabetes.  Assisted living does not provide medical care like nursing homes, but does provide housekeeping, cooking, assistance with daily tasks, and a chance to socialize with other seniors in the community.

Adult day care may be another good option.  Adult day care facilities can be “medical,” “social,” or “specialized,” and offer services ranging from physical therapy, to cooking meals, to providing transportation.  Adult day care participants return home during the evening, and generally during the weekends.

On a final note, it is important to let health and safety guide your considerations above all other factors.  Your loved one may resist the idea of elder care, but if the individual is a danger to him- or herself, it simply isn’t safe to ignore the potentially fatal problems which can develop in the absence of professional care.

If you have any questions about nursing home residents’ legal rights, or if you’re concerned about abuse or neglect, nursing home abuse attorney Brent Wieand can help.  To set up a free and private legal consultation, call Brent at (800) 481-5206 today.