It’s an issue that no adult child really wants to think about, as it can induce feelings of sadness. The reality is, however, that there may come a time when your elderly relative may need to move into a nursing home.
It’s fair to say that there’s a lot of evidence that suggests that most older people do well in their own homes, provided they live with younger relatives. This can ensure that they have people to talk to, a job to do and that they feel useful, which is great for their mental health.
However, if there are significant problems in your elderly loved one’s life that aren’t avoidable, you may need to consider them moving into a nursing home for their own benefit. What are some of the signs to look out for? Here’s a short guide.
1. Declining Physical Health
Anyone who has an elderly relative in their life will know that they can be, well, a bit stubborn when it comes to things like maintaining their independence!
This could be them hiding information about their health or being secretive about the discomfort that they’re having. However, if you notice that it’s taking your relative a long time to get dressed in the morning, to shower, or to prepare meals for themselves (and you’re not able to help them with this), then it may be time to consider moving them into a nursing home. If you’re not sure if there are any nursing homes nearby that would be able to help them, click here for a guide to what to look for in an elderly care setting.
2. Significant Cognitive Decline or Memory Loss
While many people presume that all older people suffer from ailments like Alzheimer’s, or Lewy body dementia, this isn’t the case.
There’s a noted cognitive decline that occurs in almost all people who are over the age of sixty-five, but all the types of dementia that exist are illnesses that can usually be managed with medication.
Of course, depending on the severity of dementia, as well as other health issues that can enhance it (such as diabetes, a stroke, or heart disease), it may be worth exploring how a nursing home could be beneficial for your relative.
In this kind of setting, they won’t forget to take their medication, there will be meals provided for them, and there will be professionals on hand who can monitor cognitive issues.
3. Safety Issues
It may be the home that they lived in with their husband or wife for fifty years. It may be the home that they raised their family in. However, you need to ask the following question — is it safe for them?
It’s true that there are many home adaptations that can be put in to help an older person who has limited mobility, such as grab rails, lights on the stairs, and even stairlifts.
However, even with all these add-ons to the home environment, it may still be the case that the home is no longer safe for your elderly relative to live in, even with live-in help or care.
How do you assess this? Usually, it’s with the help of a doctor and your own common sense. If the older person has had multiple falls, it may be time to consider moving them to a care home as, in these settings, there are all the aforementioned safety features and more, as well as staff being available all day, every day, to help them manage their environment.
It isn’t something that most people think about, but the majority of older people who live by themselves and have a family member or carer coming in to help them with daily tasks are actually lonely.
As humans are very social animals, social isolation can cause an array of physical health issues to worsen and can also play into many of the emotional and mental health issues that also exist within this group. Studies have found that even individuals who have severe cases of dementia can feel lonely and would benefit from being in an environment where there are people who can care for them.
Consider that in their home environment, the older person that’s being cared for may have physical health needs that prevent them from going out, thus enhancing the social isolation further.
Therefore, transitioning this person into a care home may be the best thing that you’ll ever do for them. In these settings, there are people who will be on hand to care for them 24/7, as well as other people who are their own age that they can talk to.
All care homes encourage social interactions with their residents and also hold day trips and other events that can keep them busy. As you can imagine, this also slows down cognitive decline issues and helps with better overall well-being. Great!
5. Caregiver Burnout
OK, so while the purpose of a nursing home is to help the older person, there are many ways that such a placement can help other members of the family too.
In 2023, the majority of care that’s given to older people is done by members of their own family, and if you have an older person that’s being cared for, it’s important that you keep an eye on their caregiver. Signs of burnout include extreme stress, fatigue, and mental health challenges that may worsen as time goes on.
However, it’s a sad reality that many people who are caring for someone else may not recognize the signs of burnout in themselves and may not want to step down from the role due to concerns about what will happen to their relative. It may simply be the case that the caring role may be too hard for them to carry out on their own, and thus, they may need to step down.
It’s important to understand that, in these cases, care homes are the ideal place for someone to go who has complex care needs, as these settings have multiple professionals who can ensure that the older person receives the highest level of care and will also allow the former carer to visit.