When is it time to go to a nursing home?

Aug 30, 2016

When is it time to go to a nursing home?

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With an aging loved one, it can be difficult to decide on long-term care. Many emotions and thoughts can cluster a caregiver’s mind with concern and guilt. However, often times it is more beneficial for both the caregiver and loved one to consider an array of senior care options.

According to the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, approximately six million American seniors are in need of senior care, but only 20 percent of those actually receive care in a residential community. This leaves the remaining 80 percent in homes with personal care that's usually being performed by a family member or a trusted friend. Caring for a loved one comes with great responsibility and long hours, which can easily create stress for both the caregiver and the loved one. Without proper medical training or assistance, the caregiver can reach a point where he or she is no longer able to provide adequate care.

The Nursing Home Move

Considering the move to a nursing home can be emotional and stressful. Nursing homes offer a wide range of senior care options, which could be more beneficial for an aging loved one. They provide social interaction, professional medical care, personal care, and round the clock supervision. To begin the decision process, one must evaluate their loved one’s abilities and the current situation, which includes the overall impact on the caregiver.

When assessing a loved one’s need for a nursing home, consider the amount of autonomy your loved one is able to perform. More often, seniors contemplate moving into a nursing home when the ability to independently perform daily activities of living becomes difficult. This can be a key tool for evaluation. The activities of daily living include all tasks required to function in day-to-day life such as housekeeping, cooking, self-care, shopping, etc. 

Consider your senior’s ability to independently perform the following tasks on a daily basis:

  • Can easily access the telephone in an emergency
  • Shopping without assistance
  • Cooking adequate meals, keeping an adequate diet without interference or assistance
  • Can perform house-keeping chores without assistance
  • Can perform personal hygiene tasks such as bathing and using the toilet without assistance
  • Can keep a laundry routine without interference
  • Able to keep a proper medical regiment without assistance to take the medication
  • Can travel outside the home for excursions such as day trips and errands without assistance
  • Capable of managing financials and transactions without assistance
  • Does not require overnight supervision

Although this is not a comprehensive list, if your aging loved one cannot perform at least half of the tasks listed above, a nursing home might be the ideal option for senior care. If your loved one can perform the majority of items listed, hiring a home care nurse may be more beneficial.

Alternate Senior Care

Caregiver stress can be a looming factor when choosing alternate senior care. Often times a caregiver will scold themselves and push through the difficulties of caring for an elderly loved one. However, it is unhealthy for individuals to neglect one’s personal issues. If feelings of resentment, anger, depression or anxiousness surface frequently when in situations with an elderly loved one, it may be time to consider the transition to a nursing home.

As a caregiver, reflect on these questions:

  1. Is it becoming more difficult to continue intimate care for your senior?
  2. Are you consistently emotionally drained or fatigued?
  3. Does your elderly loved one require specific medical rehabilitation or supervision?

Consider your answers to these questions and the amount of time and effort needed to care for your loved one. According to a caregiver survey, the average caregiver works 18 hours per week to care for a loved one. One out of five caregivers works full time, which constitutes at least 40 hours a week. If the stress of caring is interfering with personal happiness and personal autonomy, including financial autonomy, a nursing home can provide the appropriate care your loved one deserves while allowing you the happiness you deserve. A nursing home can be a wonderful option and enjoyable for your loved one.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Will Medicare pay for long-term care services like nursing homes?

For things like rehabilitation that will last no more than 100 days, then it is possible for Medicare to cover the costs. Keep in mind that you must also have had a prior hospital stay of at least three days, and are admitted to a Medicare-certified nursing facility within 30 days of this stay. Medicare will cover 100% of the cost for the first 20 days, however, you’ll have to pick up the cost starting the 21st day.

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If I can't take care of myself, is a nursing home the only option I have?

Although, it’s a better choice for some, nursing homes are not the only type of senior care that can suit someone who needs assistance with day-to-day life. Independent living and assisted living communities provide the flexibility and security of receiving care when needed, while nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities are more for those who need daily assistance or monitoring. Continuing care retirement communities contain all of the various levels of senior care, although they are generally the most expensive option.

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