What Tips Families to Choose the Nursing Home Option?
We talk to people every day who are having to make the seemingly unthinkable decision as to whether to place a Loved One in a nursing home. If you have a spouse or parent who has declined in health, what should you look for when deciding whether or not to choose the nursing home option?
As attorneys who practice in the area of elder law, we see people who make “the nursing home decision” for a Loved One” on almost a daily basis. We are not doctors and can’t offer medical advice, but here are some real life things that we see tip a decision in favor of the nursing home option.
The doctor told them they needed to do this
Many times the ultimate decision will come from the doctor. The doctor can’t normally “make” the family put their Loved One in a nursing home. However, the doctor can certainly suggest a nursing home admission when appropriate. This determination may come when the doctor thinks the patient needs a nursing home level of care and, for whatever reason, this care can’t be provided at home.
They just can’t provide the needed care at home
Mom or Dad may be at home alone and you can’t be there to provide the needed care. In some cases even if the family can be there, the care needs are so intense that they can’t effectively be provided at home.
The kids have to work and can’t be in two places at once
This is very often a tipping point. Mom can’t be at home alone but needs some care. The kids have to work and can’t be there with Mom. Even if they brought Mom to their home, Mom would be at home during the day while the kids worked. If she needs care full-time, as a practical matter, the family may have to consider a facility level of care.
Dad is deceased and the kids all live out of state
Another common situation is where one spouse is deceased and the other spouse needs a nursing home level of care but the kids all live out of state. They can call to check on Mom on a regular basis – but if she needs substantial care that can’t be provided at home, then a nursing home decision may be required.
Dad is taking care of Mom and his health is bad
Dad may be the sole caregiver for Mom. In cases where Dad may also have health issues, the kids may be afraid that if he continues to provide care that he may die first. (See NCBI report). In situations like this, the kids may decide to put Mom in a nursing home in an effort to protect Dad.
The family can’t afford care at home
The sad truth is that care at home can be very expensive. Some states have waiver programs that can pay for the care, but most care at home is paid out of pocket. When families can’t afford at-home care, then they may opt to place Mom in a nursing home and seek Medicaid assistance to help pay.
Mom wanted to go to the Nursing Home
Believe it or not, I have seen people who checked themselves into a nursing home. As an example, several years ago I met a man with Parkinson’s who told me that he wanted to go to a nursing home. His kids all worked and he “didn’t want to burden them”. He told me that his physical condition had declined to the point where caring for himself at home was “just too hard”. He needed and wanted the help that could be provided only at a nursing home.
Is Nursing Home the Only Option?
Absolutely Not! Sometimes a person needs a skilled level of nursing care that is provided 24/7. In these cases, a nursing home level of care is necessary. However for many Seniors who are declining and need some assistance, there are other options. We have discussed many of there previously, but the top two that people normally consider are:
Non-Medical Care at Home
If the Senior needs some assistance with certain activities of daily living, care can typically be provided at home. While non-medical care can be expensive, if the family can provide some of the care themselves, this can substantially reduce the cost and stretch the available resources much farther. Some states have waiver programs, which will help pay for care at home if you qualify for assistance.
Assisted Living Facilities
Many assisted living facilities provide a home-like environment, a private room, housekeeping services, and two or three good meals per day served in a nice dining room. While assisted living facilities do not provide the same level of medical care that is provided in skilled care nursing homes, they can assist declining seniors with certain activities of daily living. If 24/7 nursing care is not required, this might be a good option.
Making these decisions is not easy. We wish you the best as you work to help your Loved One get the best and most appropriate level of care possible.
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Ok. That might come off a little fast, considering we barely know each other. However, we fully understand the stress and turmoil that you are facing as Family Caregiver – including personal experiences with burnout.
In our time as caregivers, we have amassed a wealth of knowledge that we desire to pass on. Likewise, we have met many professional caregivers, as well as other family members who were thrust as Family Caregiver. All caregivers have shared the same advice – Join a community! There is nothing more cleansing for our situation than knowing that we are not alone!
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