How to Determine When an Elderly Person Needs a Nursing Home

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Determine When an Elderly Person Needs a Nursing Home
Determine When an Elderly Person Needs a Nursing Home (Image: jvangalen/www.sxc.hu)

Determining when an elderly person needs a nursing home is a difficult, emotional decision that can only be made after careful consideration of the person's physical and mental capabilities. If a family member is no longer thriving living alone, it's time to consider if a nursing home would be a better, safer option. According to State Health Facts, over 1,300,000 people in the United States live in over 15,000 nursing homes, making nursing home care a popular option for people who are no longer able to care for themselves.

Take a look at the cleanliness of the person's home and his hygiene habits. Decreased mobility or a deteriorating mental state may mean that the person is either unable or unwilling to physically clean his home, wash his clothes and groom himself. Note if repairs are being done to the home as needed and if the grass is being mowed.

Evaluate the person's ability to prepare meals. Check the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets, noting how much fresh, nutritious food is present. As people age and find it difficult to cook, they may begin to live on junk food or even skip meals if meal preparation becomes too difficult.

Review the person's bill and finances. Is she paying bills as they are due or forgetting to make payments? Are checks being deposited to a bank account or piling up on a desk?

Go for a walk and pay close attention how well the person can walk and manage stairs. If his home has many levels, it may be difficult for him to climb the stairs. With age comes a loss of stamina, and regular household chores that can easily be done by a younger person may become insurmountable obstacles for a frail, elderly person.

Consider the person's mental state. If she seems confused and is unable to remember simple details, such as the date or her address, dementia could be a possibility. If mental cognition is sufficiently impaired, it will be difficult for an older person to take care of all the little detail required in daily living.

Look at the person's prescription bottles and count the number of pills remaining. If memory loss is a problem, it is very possible that an older person will forget to take pills regularly or will take pills too often, which can result in a dangerous overdose.

Think about the person's medical conditions. If diseases are worsening with age, skilled nursing care may be needed. Daily evaluation of symptoms by nursing home staff can help ward off complications of disease.

Ask for an assessment by the person's doctor. The assessment should examine the person's ability to complete daily functions, assess medical conditions and determine if memory loss or dementia has occurred and is severe enough to prevent the person from living alone.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the elderly person knows someone who is a resident of a particular nursing home, choosing that particular home may make the transition to long-term care a little easier.

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