Nobody wants to face the day when they have to care for their parents, but the day could come. Unfortunately, your parents’ mental and physical health can decline quickly, and before you know it, you’re flipping through nursing home brochures, trying to decide if this is the next best step.
A nursing home can be a lifesaver if your parents need individualized medical care round-the-clock. They can live in a community of people in their age group and situation and have nurses on call 24/7 to tend to their needs. They might resist when the time comes, but here are 10 signs it needs to happen soon.
1. You aren’t able to care for them at your home.
In a perfect world, you’d be able to provide adequate care for your elderly parents, no matter their health condition. However, this is not always possible; your health and life are important too, and you may not have the means to care for them. That’s why nursing homes exist, and it’s okay to use one if it’s a reputable facility with your parent’s best interest in mind.
Choose a nursing home with a positive reputation, since nursing home abuse is all-too-common. The risk of understaffing, neglect, and abuse are high throughout the U.S. because many for-profit organizations choose financial gain over proper care.
2. They keep falling.
A single fall is alarming, but multiple falls indicate a more serious issue. It may be time to consider getting round-the-clock care for your loved one to prevent a more serious injury.
3. They’ve been diagnosed with chronic health issues.
As a person ages, their health naturally declines, but if there’s no diagnosis of a more serious health issue, they can likely continue on their own. However, a chronic health issue like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, a heart condition, cancer, or another life-threatening illness can be better treated in a nursing home with on-site medical staff.
4. They can’t get around by themselves.
Limited mobility is common among the elderly, and it can be dangerous. If your aging parents aren’t able to climb the stairs by themselves, get to the bathroom in time, or keep up with chores at home, it impacts their safety and quality of life.
If you can’t be there to care for them constantly, it’s time to think about finding a place where someone else can.
5. They’re not taking care of themselves properly.
You might notice new hygiene problems, weight loss, or signs of malnutrition. This indicates that your elderly parents are struggling with mobility and/or cognitive function.
It might be too difficult for them to bathe, so they do sponge baths or skip bathing altogether. It might also be too difficult for them to cook or get the proper groceries, limiting their nutrition. Some elderly might even forget to bathe or eat, and they need someone to keep them on a schedule.
6. They keep mixing up or forgetting their medications.
Medication mistakes can be life-threatening for your elderly parents. They might mix up medications, accidentally taking their spouse’s heart medication instead of their arthritis pills. You can imagine the implications of these mistakes, especially if it continues long-term!
Forgetting to take medication can be just as bad, especially if your parent’s conditions are life-threatening. Don’t let this continue, and look into assisted care.
7. Their home is too much upkeep for them.
Everyone has a different standard of cleanliness, but if you notice that your parent’s standard begins to decline, it might be because their home is too big to handle. In some cases, you may be able to help them downsize to a smaller space to solve the problem, but if there are other indicators that their health and mobility are in decline, a nursing home may be a better option.
8. They’re starting to forget things or they’ve been diagnosed with a memory problem.
About a third of people aged 85 or older may have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, a brain disorder that affects the nerve cells in the brain resulting in memory loss and cognitive decline. It’s actually the 6th leading cause of death.
Dementia is typically the first sign of Alzheimer’s, and early intervention can be key for boosting cognitive health and preventing serious injury.
9. They’re getting aggressive with you, your family, and their caregivers.
Aggression is often a sign of dementia. It’s a symptom of cognitive decline and is maximized when they feel stressed or angry. When your elderly parents start to lash out unexpectedly, it’s time to seek help.
10. They keep wandering.
When you get the call from a neighbor, police officer, or concerned citizen saying they found your parents lost and away from home, it’s a definite sign that they can no longer care for themselves, and a nursing home may be the best option.