Is it Time to Consider Long-Term Nursing Care? How to Read the Signs.
Transitioning a loved one into long-term care (LTC) or skilled nursing is a big decision. How can you be sure it’s the right time to make the move? Do you really know when to consider a nursing home as your loved one’s next address? Finding long-term care in Pennsylvania may seem overwhelming in the beginning, but knowing the right time to start your search is a vital first step.
To better understand whether or not the time is right, try spending a day in your loved one’s shoes. Think about going through an entire day with them to gauge just how well they’re managing on their own. How do their mornings begin? Are they able to easily dress themselves or prepare a substantial breakfast? What about their medications? Are those being managed and administered properly? What may seem like trivial aspects of any regular day, might actually be a struggle for them at their advanced age. If you feel like they could use additional help getting through the day, and you’re unable to provide it on a consistent basis, you may have reached the point when it’s time to begin exploring your nursing home options.
In addition to observing your loved one’s daily routine, there are certain signs to watch out for that could signal the need for skilled nursing or LTC facilities.
Moving around the house can become harder and harder as we age, especially for those who live alone or in a home with multiple levels and stairs. Keeping a tidy home, one where trash and mail aren’t constantly piling up, is hard if the ability to move around with ease is diminished. It’s also harder to keep a social schedule and make appointments on time.
A healthy appetite is a sign of a healthy mind and body. Check your loved one’s kitchen to see what kind of, and how much, food they keep on hand. Are they skipping regular meals? Is it harder for them to eat certain foods? Keep an eye out for unexplained weight loss.
Are they able to take care of themselves? It may sound like a silly question, but it’s as clear an indicator as any that help from a convalescent home could be needed. If you find that carrying out simple activities like brushing hair or teeth, bathing or keeping clean laundry, don’t simply ignore it or even try to do everything for them. A nursing home with an experienced skilled nursing staff would be their best option.
Keeping up with medication regimens is critical for older adults. Mismanagement or overconsumption could have dangerous consequences. Keep an especially close eye on whether or not your loved one remembers to take prescribed medications, and to take the correct amount of each. If they’re not, they’re in need of additional care.
How frequently are they needing to see a specialist, and how many are they seeing? Repeat visits to medical office are not only expensive, but if mobility and memory are an issue, they’re also hard to maintain. LTC facilities provide easy access to medical specialists, social workers, physical therapists and more.
Recognizing the signs that it’s time to consider long-term care won’t always be easy. Maybe your loved one doesn’t raise many (or any) of the flags mentioned above. The best way to know for sure, is to know the person. Changes in their behavior, from seemingly small issues like occasional confusion or disorientation, to more alarming signs like paranoia, memory lapses, poor hygiene and even refusing to let visitors inside their home, will be most apparent to those who know them best. That is when you’ll need to make the decision that prolonged professional care is in their best interests.
Caring for a loved one as they age is challenging, emotional work. Often it’s made even harder if the person you’re trying to help is exhibiting one or more of the signs listed above, and therefore acting more irritable, demanding or angry than usual. The physical and emotional toll this can take on both of you can lead to depression, anxiety and even resentment toward each other. If you feel like you’re headed in this direction, or if you’re already there, it’s time to begin considering skilled nursing or long-term care.
Your next step should be getting a complete medical evaluation of your loved one by an experienced professional. Then, you can begin the transition to this next stage of life by exploring your local nursing home options. Connect with staff members, talk with residents, and most of all, stay involved. The most important thing is ensuring your loved one is cared for and comfortable.
To aide in the process of securing long-term care in Pennsylvania, use this helpful resource.