When to Consider a Skilled Nursing Facilityadmin
Loss of independence is a common fear among aging adults, and it’s an emotional topic for the people who love them too. However, it’s important to pay close attention to behavior patterns and health conditions that change as your loved ones get older. Some physical and mental deterioration is perfectly normal, but at a certain point, it may not be safe for them to live alone.
If your loved one is growing increasingly erratic or dependent on others, it might be time to consider a residential facility. Fortunately, your options are as varied as the people who benefit from them. Whether they need occasional help or 24-hour medical care, you can help them find a community or facility that works for them.
Spotting the Warning Signs
If you’re exploring your options, you’ve probably already noticed a few red flags. Our senses don’t stay sharp forever, but some side effects of aging might actually be symptoms of a debilitating illness. Look for the following clues that your loved one can no longer live alone:
- Reckless driving – Is their vehicle damaged? Have they neglected basic maintenance needs, or stopped following the basic rules of driving (e.g. wearing a seatbelt, staying in their own lane, etc.)?
- Money management problems – Do they fall for financial scams or donate significant sums to charity without precedent? Are their bills piling up? Do they have excessive debt or fees because of reckless spending?
- Clutter and disorganization – Do they have broken appliances or damaged furniture? Do they have long-expired food in the fridge, or too many groceries because they didn’t remember what they already had?
- Physical changes – When you hug them, do they feel especially frail? Or do they overeat, resulting in uncharacteristic weight gain? Do you notice strange odors, suggesting that they’ve stopped bathing regularly?
- Multiple health problems – Have they fallen down several times in the past few months? Do they have a chronic condition that’s getting worse, interfering with their basic needs? Do minor illnesses turn into pneumonia or bronchitis?
- Social signs – Does your loved one live in isolation, ignoring former friends or snapping at family members?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, your loved one may be safer and happier in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility.
Your Own Limitations
It’s also important to consider your own needs and limitations. Does your loved one live with you or another family member? Do they depend on daily visits or require help with everyday tasks such as cleaning, cooking, or simply moving around the house?
Even if you’re a licensed nurse or doctor, it takes a great deal of time and emotional energy to assume responsibility for someone else. If you’re overwhelmed or your loved one struggles to accept your help, it might be time to consider a residential facility.
Exploring Your Care Options
You’ve already taken the most difficult step: deciding that it’s no longer safe for your loved one to live alone. It’s perfectly natural to struggle with this reality, especially if they’re not on board, it’s understandable why you might be hesitant to take the next step. However, their safety and quality of life will improve dramatically, so you shouldn’t let emotions prevent you from taking action.
Instead of dreading the transition from independence to dependence, embrace the fact that you have plenty of options. Your goal is to find a facility that will improve their quality of life while accommodating their specific social and medical needs, but first you’ll need to narrow down your choices by figuring out what type of facility is best.
Skilled Nursing Facilities
More commonly known as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities are private or state-sanctioned health care centers that provide 24-hour care for live-in residents. These residents may have their own bedroom or share a room with another person, but they don’t have private kitchens or common areas. Staff members may include nurses, therapists, and other licensed professionals who provide the following services:
- Balanced meals
- Postoperative Monitoring
- Medication Dispensing
- Intravenous Medication Monitoring
- Physical Therapy
- Speech Therapy
- Respiratory Assistance
- Transportation to Designated Places
- Daily Personal Care
- Constant Supervision
- Social Events
- Educational Opportunities
- Hospice Care
Some facilities are also equipped with advanced medical technologies, limiting the need for hospital transports and allowing them to provide immediate care in case of emergencies. These may include in-house pharmacies, radiology equipment, and even medical laboratories.
This round-the-clock care is ideal for people who need constant supervision or regular medical treatment. They also provide rehabilitative care to improve quality of life after strokes and injuries. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or any serious medical condition, a skilled nursing facility will accommodate their physical and psychological needs. Do you worry that they’ll wander off and get disoriented, or become too angry or sick for you to safely manage on your own? If so, this may be the right option for you.
Assisted Living Facilities
If your loved one needs extra support, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll lose their independence completely. Assisted living communities include facilities and residential areas that cover a wide spectrum of ability levels and age ranges. Many offer the option of transitioning from less supervision to more supervision, as illnesses or memory problems progress. If your loved one has complete mental clarity and simply needs someone to help them if they fall, an apartment in an assisted living facility might be ideal.
These facilities are designed to accommodate aging residents, with resources such as on-site dining facilities, in-house health care professionals, and regular opportunities to mingle with other residents or take trips into town. They make life easier while affording residents more privacy and autonomy than a skilled nursing facility.
Making the Right Choice
No matter what decision you make, remember that safety is the first priority. Your loved one will need your help as they move into their next stage of life, but it’s not an ending; it’s simply the beginning of a better, safer lifestyle that will give both of you peace of mind.