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How to Tell a Loved One It’s Time for a Nursing Home

It is a difficult decision to move a loved one into an assisted living facility — one that is often fraught with anxiety and guilt.  Caregivers may find themselves unable to cope – both financially and emotionally– with the escalating health problems and daily needs of an elderly family member or loved one.

When the signs are evident that nursing home placement is best for everyone, how do you go about telling your loved one? For many families, the act of communicating the news is the most stressful and heartbreaking of all.

Signs that assisted living care is near

It is understandable why many families are hesitant to move their elderly loved one into a long-term nursing home facility. Many worry that such placement will lead to depression, isolation and a decline in quality of life. But in situations where Alzheimer’s disease or dementia have taken hold, and seniors become a danger to themselves and those around them, the burden of caregiving may be far too much to handle.

According to the National Alzheimer’s Association, there are currently 15 million people in the U.S. who are caring for a spouse or loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. When your loved one’s care needs extend beyond your physical – and emotional– capabilities, it may be time to consider assisted living. Even if their mental acuity is still intact, chronic health problems can make in-home care cost prohibitive.

Signs that an aged loved one may benefit from nursing home placement:

  • Showing signs of paranoia, aggression and other symptoms common with dementia
  • Loss of mobility
  • Social isolation
  • Inability or disinterest in taking care of themselves
  • Increasing medical care needs
  • Increasing forgetfulness
  • Incidences of wandering – getting lost
  • Frequent falls and injuries
  • Skipping meals, not eating well, lack of nutrition
  • Chronic disorientation, confusion and agitated behavior
  • Exhibiting unsafe behaviors
  • Failing to take medications

How to communicate the news

In an ideal scenario, your loved one will still have a degree of awareness and understanding when the topic of nursing home placement is broached. If the person feels like they are taking an active part in the decision-making process, they may be more accepting of such a major adjustment. In elderly with advanced Alzheimer’s or dementia, it may be better to have the conversation early in the morning, or during times when they are more likely to be calm and lucid.

Consider asking your family physician or home nursing assistant to help explain why such a move is necessary and for their own good.

The news may be met with resentment, fear and frustration. Dementia patients, particularly, may express feelings of anger and abandonment. Try and be patient and address each of their feelings with candor and compassion, so they understand the move has their best interests at heart. Let them understand that your role as “advocate” will continue.

Deciding between in-home care and nursing home placement is never an easy task. Given the increasing incidence of elder abuse and neglect in these facilities, families have good reason to feel reluctant about such a move.

Legal guidance in California

While many long-term care facilities provide excellent care to their patients, the statistics on nursing home neglect are both disturbing and disheartening. Close to one-third of all residents suffer some form of abuse or neglect at the hands of staff or other residents.

At Ellis Injury Law, our elder abuse lawyers have been helping families in California for more than 20 years. Contact our Los Angeles headquarters today to learn more about your rights to compensation.

For a free consult, please call 1-800-INJURED.

Additional Resources on Signs it’s Time for a Nursing Home:

  1. Caring.com, Recognize Signs It’s Time for Assisted Living https://www.caring.com/articles/signs-its-time-skilled-nursing-facility
  2. VeryWell.com, How to Decide If It’s Time for Nursing Home Care https://www.verywell.com/how-to-decide-if-its-time-for-nursing-home-care-98182
  3. AARP, When It’s Time for a Nursing Home https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/basics/info-2017/parents-nursing-home-choices-bjj.html
  4. APlaceforMom, How to Recognize Signs It’s Time for Assisted Living https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/2013-3-11-signs-its-time-for-assisted-living/