We all want to be able to care for our loved ones. But, unfortunately, there comes a time when your support might not be enough to help a parent or grandparent, and they’ll require the special assistance only a nursing home can provide.

When nursing homes become the plan for your loved one, you should know there are various services to help you find the right home for your loved one when the time comes. But how do you know when is it time for a nursing home? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Is assisted living better for them?

Assisted living communities are different from nursing homes. Instead, these communities are designed for seniors and allow them to care for themselves in their own suites, condos, or apartments with private bathrooms and kitchens. Meanwhile, nursing homes are clinical environments, and residents typically don’t have their own rooms. Assisted living communities provide a more homey experience, but if your loved one has a health condition, a nursing home might be best for them since they’ll have access to medical staff and personnel if something happens. 

Do they need long-term care?

Many seniors lived in nursing homes long-term, especially if they required medical care. However, your loved one can also stay in a nursing home short term, such as when recovering from an injury or surgery. If your loved one only needs medical care for a short period, you can also choose in-home programs that include treatment. However, nursing facilities offer therapies more frequently and will determine when it’s safe to discharge your loved one. 

Do they require 24-hour access to medical staff?

If your loved one needs constant medical care and you can’t be there for them 24 hours a day, it might be time to place them in a nursing home. This typically occurs when health conditions are complex or debilitating, and home care isn’t enough to ensure the patient’s welfare. Assisted living communities can help seniors with daily activities, medication management, and some health treatments. 

For example, individuals with essential tremors may choose to live in an assisted living facility where someone helps them get dressed in the morning. However, there are often limits to what nurses at these facilities can do. Meanwhile, a nursing facility offers constant access to medical care and supervision, allowing registered nurses and specialists to care for your loved one and provide you with peace of mind. 

Do they have complex medical conditions?

Individuals with complex medical conditions, chronic illness, and cognitive diseases may require constant care. For example, they may benefit from living in a nursing home if they need IV drips, a ventilator, or other specialized care. If your loved one has a chronic illness or cognitive health condition, trained medical staff can improve their quality of life while decreasing behavioral problems. 

Is safety at home a concern?

If your loved one had recently injured themself at home when no one was around, it might be time to consider a nursing home. Of course, the elderly can usually live alone as long as they don’t struggle to perform basic tasks like getting dressed and feeding themselves. However, if they’re starting to struggle around the house and you worry about their health and safety, it might be time for a nursing home or other living situation for them. 

Has their mobility changed?

Another sign it may be time for a nursing home is if your loved one’s mobility has changed. If your parent has recently started using a wheelchair or walker or refuses to use one even though they’re having trouble getting around, a nursing home might help put less strain on the body and make it easier for them to live a quality life. In a nursing home, your loved one won’t have to clean or cook for themselves, so they can relax and worry less about how they’ll get around, reducing the potential for slips and falls.

Have health conditions worsened?

If your loved one has a diagnosed illness and their health has taken a turn, it might be time to consider putting them in a nursing home where they can have more personalized and specialized care. Unfortunately, while treatments can reduce symptoms from chronic illnesses, they can’t solve every health issue. If your loved one’s condition has worsened, it could be a sign that they shouldn’t live alone, especially if they can’t keep track of their medications. 

Is the family having problems with sharing the workload?

Most families come together to care for an elderly loved one, often caring for them in shifts. Unfortunately, it can become difficult for the family to share the workload over extended amounts of time, especially as someone’s health deteriorates. In most cases, it’s easier to have peace of mind that your loved one is being taken care of by professionals than to stress over how you and your family members can share the chores of looking after them. 

Even if you want to keep them at home and help them around the house, a nursing home might be the best place for them. In a nursing home, your loved one will have the attention and care they need without having to plan with family members or deal with people making last-minute schedule changes that can cause family-wide stress and burnout. 

Have you already tried at-home care?

Many families invest in at-home care to help share the effort of looking after an elderly person to delay the need for a nursing home. Families may hire an in-home nurse and split shifts with one another to ensure someone is always there to care for their loved one. But, unfortunately, at-home care doesn’t solve every issue a senior might face. Assisted living facilities can cost a pretty penny, but Medicare and other financial programs can help reduce the financial burden. 

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Since your family members are not healthcare professionals, an at-home care arrangement might be more dangerous for your loved one. They may require medical care while living at home, but if your family can’t afford a live-in nurse, a nursing home might be the best place for them. 

Final thoughts

Knowing when to move your loved one into a nursing home isn’t easy. Every senior and family is different. Still, you should monitor these nursing home signs and explore options to ensure you know where to go and when to go to a nursing home when the need arises.