When is a Nursing Home the Right Choice?

Whether it’s yourself or a loved one, having to decide when it’s the right time for a nursing home can be an emotionally painful and draining task. There are a number of factors that can contribute to this decision, such as loss of freedom, a recent injury or illness that requires constant ongoing care, and simply getting older. For an elderly person, entering a nursing home can seem like a frightening prospect. Many older people have grown accustomed to their ways of living, and changing their set ways by going to a nursing home can take a toll emotionally. Fortunately, there are ways to determine whether a nursing home is the right choice for yourself or your loved one.

What is a Nursing Home?

Nursing homes, or nursing facilities, are long-term care facilities designed for the elderly or for those who require ongoing care. Unlike some other elder care options, such as assisted living facilities, nursing homes specifically provide 24-hour nursing and medical care for those who need it. In general, residents of a nursing home are well enough to avoid being hospitalized, but they are in need of medical care that they could not receive at home. Cases may include people who are recovering from surgery, critical injuries, or serious illnesses.

Is it the Right Choice?

There is no easy answer to this question, but you can take measures to determine whether you are making the right choice to put a loved one into a nursing home. A good first step to take is to request an evaluation from a trusted healthcare professional, such as a geriatrician, who has extensive knowledge and training with the elderly. The potential resident’s primary care doctor is another good choice, and he or she has likely been going to the same doctor for years.

A thorough evaluation can determine whether the person’s cognitive abilities are still intact, and whether or not he or she will be able to manage by themselves if they are living at home or if they will be alone in the house for long stretches of time. Daily living activities such as having the strength to get out of a chair, bringing a utensil to the mouth, and being able to pull on pants and a sweater should be evaluated. If the person cannot seem to do one or more of these tasks easily, the healthcare professional may suggest a nursing home.

Don’t make a decision without getting input from several family members, as you may realized that you were swayed one way or another. It is also useful to reach out to community resources such as volunteer groups and transportation services if you think the person in question could get by with just a little help from the community rather than going into a nursing home.