If, as a caregiver or family member, you have been wondering if it is time for your loved one to enter a skilled nursing home community, you’ve probably been dealing with their physical and, perhaps, cognitive decline for some time. Barring a sudden severe illness or injury that makes skilled nursing care immediately necessary, you’ve been wondering what signs to look for that will demonstrate that the more comprehensive care provided at a skilled nursing home is what your loved one needs.

Skilled Nursing Homes vs. Assisted Living Communities

A skilled nursing home is designed specifically for seniors who need care 24-hours-a-day, and often require significant medical and therapy services. These communities feature round-the-clock nursing care and the oversight of a Medical Director. Older adults who are living with progressive diseases like dementia and Parkinson’s, or those almost fully dependent on others for their safety and wellbeing, should be strongly considered as candidates for skilled nursing homes.

In assisted living communities, on the other hand, housing and limited care are provided for seniors who need some assistance with daily activities like bathing, dressing, toileting, meal preparation, or getting in and out of bed. Domestic tasks such as housekeeping, grocery shopping, and laundry service may be included. However, assisted living residents do not require the full supervision or medical care that may be needed in skilled nursing. Assisted living communities often will offer specialized neighborhoods for those residents who are in need of memory support services, just as a skilled nursing home would.

What Are the Signs That a Skilled Nursing Home May Be Needed?

Some of the signs include the following:

  • Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia have progressed to dangerous levels. This includes people who endanger themselves through disorientation, forgetfulness, and aggressive behavior that may also place a caregiver at risk. Wandering is a clear sign that more comprehensive supervision is needed.
  • If your senior loved one is neglecting personal hygiene, is unable to prepare food, and cannot grocery shop, run errands, take medication as directed or manage their finances, you should be concerned.
  • The inability to drive safely, including automobile accidents and tickets, are another indication that the senior may not be able to stay in their home.
  • Falls, sometimes only detected by noticing unexplained bruising, are a warning sign as well.
  • Finally, a severe illness or injury that makes it impossible for the senior to care for themselves in the long term makes more intense and comprehensive care a requirement.

What About the Guilt?

Years ago, you promised your parents that you would “never place them in a nursing home.” Even the words “nursing home” conjure up feelings of abandonment, and the concern of turning your loved ones over to people you do not know.

Now you realize this is the best option, but how do you resolve the guilt?

First, your responsibility as a loving child is to make the best determination you can about your parents’ care needs and then move forward. Even if they object and resist the idea of leaving their home, the loving thing to do is see that they receive the care they need.

Second, you are not abandoning your parents. You can still be involved in their care and their lives at a skilled nursing home community. When you visit make sure they are receiving good care. Is their room clean? Is the staff responsive, and do they communicate well with you and your parents?

If so, then use the time and energy you used to spend in caregiver chores and worry to enjoy your life knowing your parents are in good hands.

At Bethesda, we pride ourselves in providing exceptional senior care. Schedule a tour at one of our skilled nursing home communities in the St. Louis area to see what we have to offer.