When Should I Consider Moving My Loved One Into a Skilled Nursing Facility?


Family member and caregivers anguish over nursing home placement. Some feel it is a failure to honor a parent’s wishes to stay at home until the end. Others fee it as the ultimate loving and responsible act when safety becomes paramount. Some hold both views and feel powerfully conflicted. Here are ideas for dealing with the many emotions that arise around this difficult family decision:

Don’t make promises you can’t — and shouldn’t — keep. I’ve heard many caregivers say they won’t even consider a nursing home for a parent. This sounds noble but could have untoward consequences. If the parent should have a sudden downturn — for example, a broken hip or stroke — then the family is caught unprepared when the hospital staff insists the parent can’t return home and needs a nursing home facility. To prevent this, I suggest that caregiving families plan for all contingencies, including the potential need for 24-hour supervision some day. Ideally, parent and adult child should visit local nursing homes, weigh options and indicate preferences before an emergency requires a rushed decision.

Your job is to provide the right care — but not always in the form a parent wants. The “right care at the right time” is always open to debate. It shouldn’t, however, be solely defined by a parent’s unchanging wishes in what are usually fluid situations. A “right” plan should meet a parent’s needs now and in the future, while taking into account the needs and capabilities of other family members. If the care that best meets that formula is nursing home placement, then that is the prudent choice for everyone.

Expect a cascade of emotions. When my mother agreed to go to the nursing home, I felt a palpable rush of relief mixed with onerous guilt that I somehow hadn’t been able to do more to prevent this move. And I felt deep sadness. It was awful that my mother had deteriorated to the point that 24-hour care was crucial. Then, like her, I began worrying about what nursing home living would actually be like. These feelings were very strong and uncomfortable, but normal.

Caregiving changes but continues. In the last few months, my mother has been adjusting to her new living situation and so have I. I no longer pick her up off the carpeting or sit with her in the emergency room, but I make sure her nursing home room is clean, her nurse’s aides are responsive to her and that she is reasonably content. And I still live by the same imperative I have for five years: to help my mother live as fully and safely as possible as she gets older.

The following is a good list of what to look for when evaluating a senior, you think may be in need of additional care.

  • Cannot use telephone
  • Unable to shop without assistance or unable to shop at all
  • Needs meals prepared and served or cannot maintain an adequate diet
  • Cannot participate in housekeeping activities
  • Needs laundry done by others
  • Needs travel assistance or does not travel at all
  • Isn’t capable of managing medications
  • Incapable of handling money or making day-to-day purchases

At Hickory Heights, we specialize in Short-Term Rehabilitation and Long-Term Care services. From the moment you enter our community, we want you to experience the difference our community has to offer. From our light-filled common area to our beautiful outdoor patios, we want you and your loved one to feel comfortable and safe when staying with us. You will also notice the pride we take in our community by keeping our building sparkling clean from the inside out. Our team is dedicated to providing a safe and comfortable environment.

Visit our website http://hickoryheightshr.com/ for more information.  We look forward to working with you and your family!

This article was sponsored by Hickory Heights Health & Rehab.

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