What are some signs it is time for a nursing home?

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2024 | Nursing Home Planning

Deciding to place a loved one in a nursing home is often one of the most difficult decisions a person will ever have to make. Not everyone needs nursing home care and many elderly Massachusetts residents value their independence and do not want to live in a nursing home.

Placing a loved one in a nursing home is not a decision that should be made lightly. In fact, placing someone in a nursing home too soon or when it is not necessary can cause many problems, including a breakdown in your relationship.

However, it is not uncommon for caregivers and elderly individuals to be in denial about the need for nursing home care. There may come a time when your loved one can no longer live independently and their needs become too much for you or an at-home caregiver.

Here are some common early warning signs that it may be time for a nursing home.

Falls or physical injuries

One of the most common signs is suffering falls or physical injuries. As we get older, performing simple tasks such as cooking, cleaning, bathing and dressing suddenly present risks and dangers we never encountered before.

A decline in personal hygiene or a messy household are other signs that it might be time for a nursing home. If you notice your loved one appears to not be bathing, brushing their teeth or dressing properly, ask them some questions.

Ask how often they bathe or shower and if it is difficult to get undressed. Inquire about their sleeping habits. Ask if they still sleep in their bed or if they sleep in a chair or other location. If they are not sleeping in their bed, it might be because they can no longer get in and out of it on their own.

A messy or disorganized household

Check the state of their house regularly. Unwashed dishes, trash piled up or stale food in the refrigerator could be signs that keeping up with housework is becoming too much.

Additionally, soiled bed sheets are a sign that they may no longer be able to get to the bathroom in time.

One of the most dangerous signs to watch for is unopened or unused medication. Your loved one may be forgetting to take prescribed medication, which can have serious consequences.

A nursing home means they will have the benefit of trained professionals making sure they take their medication as prescribed.

Finally, focus on yourself as well. Consider if your stress or burnout level is becoming too high acting as a caregiver or constantly worrying about your loved one when they are alone.

Preparing for a discussion with your loved one

It is not always easy to know when it is time to move a loved one to a nursing home. But keeping an eye out for these signs can help you know when it is time to get the conversation started.

When the signs are clear that it is time to move your loved one to a nursing home, you are likely to feel a mix of complicated emotions, including sadness, guilt and relief. As you work through these emotions, it is important to know what to expect. A smooth transition to a nursing home requires careful planning and preparation.