Making the Nursing Home Decision

It is not easy making the decision to take your loved one to a nursing home. A lot of things have to be considered before the decision can be finalized. Your loved one must consent to enter a nursing home. You should be aware that going to a nursing home for the elderly is not easy. The person entering the nursing home is giving up a lot of things - freedom, independence and the comfort of being in his or her own home. Also, many of the elderly fear that they will not see their loved ones very often ones they enter the home. However, being the sole caretaker of an elderly loved one takes a huge toll on your life. Often, you may not be the best person for this job. The decision to put someone in a nursing home will probably be the most difficult decision you will make in your life. The reality remains that many aged persons are unable to properly care for themselves. They often overmedicate, forget to eat and have trouble with such basic needs as bathing and toileting. They are a danger to themselves, and a constant worry to their loved ones. This article will focus on making the decision, and alternatives to nursing homes.

When to Make the Call

Probably the best time to discuss nursing home decisions with your loved ones is while they still have good control of their faculties. Although this discussion can be hard, the best thing that can be done is to sit down with them and make a list of things that would necessitate them going to a home. Discuss openly the need for good medication supervision, proper nutrition and safety. Reach an agreement as to situations that preclude entry into a nursing home. It is often very helpful to have this agreement in writing, and to have a power of attorney in place for when the time comes.

Choosing the Proper Home

The best way to approach this is by utilizing the following:

* Discuss the person’s condition with his or her primary health physician. They can best tell you when the time comes to consider placement in a nursing home.
* Talk to the discharge planner or social workers at your local hospital. Their advice is often sound and they can give good recommendations for facilities.
* Visit local nursing homes. Talk to the staff - are they friendly and seem to take an interest in their charges? Is the home large and spacious, with a common room and access to outdoor gardens?
* Talk to aging friends. They often have made plans or researched homes that would meet their needs.

Alternatives to Nursing Homes

There are other alternatives if you feel a nursing home is just not right for your loved one. Adult foster care homes are available that focus on a family setting, and will ensure that proper care is given, including getting the person to doctor appointments and organizing outside activities for them. These homes may also offer nursing care that can serve people with dementia, mental health and developmental disabilities.

Boarding homes or assisted care facilities are community homes licensed to care for seven or more residents. These homes provide private apartments, which allow the residents to maintain their privacy and independence. The level of care and assistance will vary in different facilities, as will pricing. Some of these homes are qualified to handle persons with dementia and Alzheimer's. Often, the person lives in the home, and so the caretakers must be certified by state and federal guidelines to provide this level of service.

A caregiver may be the best choice for you. They provide around the clock attention to the person and allow that person to live in their own home. It is best to seek recommendations and interview several candidates before making a selection. A home caregiver must be very patient and understanding of the needs of the person they are caring for.

Home health care agencies provide assistance to the person living in your home when you are out. These health care givers are often used when a loved one is incapacitated or recovering from surgery. Registered nurses, physical, occupational or speech therapists and home health aides are readily available.

Most of the alternatives to a nursing home are more expensive than the average nursing home. Bear in mind that some nursing homes today are staffed with inexperienced people who don't have the interest of your loved one at heart. These staffers are working in an entry level job, have minimal training, and can be resentful of their position. Very often you see exposes on television about nursing homes, and the mistreatment of patients. Some employees are unable to understand the special needs of people like your loved one. Instead of being a help, they are a liability to these aged people. Because of these risks, it is very important that you interview the staff at the nursing home, and pay attention to how your loved one is being treated. After he or she enters the home, make sure you discuss his or her level of care on a regular basis to prevent mistreatment. Whatever your decision, make sure that both you and your loved one are comfortable with it.

Are finances an issue for your elder care concerns? See our Personal Finance Articles

Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.