Think your aging parent should move to a room in a nursing home like the one in the picture?
The answer is, maybe. But then again, maybe not. To be sure when it’s time for a nursing home, you first need to be sure about when it isn’t time.
To move or not to move…
To be clear, I’m not referring here to a short-term stay in a nursing home for rehabilitation, but of becoming a permanent nursing home resident The latter is a decision that changes many things irrevocably, so if you’re grappling with it right now, keep on reading…
(Incidentally, sites like Housing for Seniors.com can help you find permanent facilities).
Five Reasons It Isn’t Time For A Nursing Home
Reason #1: Your aging parent can walk well
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of your mom or dad falling in a nursing home is twice that of falling in the community. Are you surprised by that? I was too. And let’s be honest — this is not exactly a selling point for nursing homes.
Think you can guess how the fall risk is reduced inside these facilities?
If you’ve ever been to a nursing home and seen residents in wheelchairs rather than on their feet, then you know the answer.
So what happens when your 89-year-old mother enters a nursing home able to walk, but is encouraged to roll? Over time her leg strength diminishes and along with it, I’d argue, her quality of life…
Reason #2 Good health is on your aging parent’s side!
Nursing homes were created for people who require some sort of treatment, management, observation and/or evaluation by skilled staff. Skilled staff (as defined by Medicare) include nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, audiologists and speech pathologists. Examples of care that only a skilled staff member can provide would include wound care, physical therapy and/or intravenous injections.
Needs that fall outside of those described above (think bathing and grocery shopping) would be considered unskilled. If your aging parent has unskilled needs alone, moving him or her into a nursing home is likely to be overkill – like trying to hit a nail into the wall with a sledgehammer.
Reason #3 Your parent is safe at home and prefers to live there
One of the toughest things for an adult daughter or son to do is to recognize what’s working “well enough” and then leave it alone. So your aging parent lives happily at home but your top concern is safety? Join the club! Then quit the talk about a nursing home. Now’s the time to prevent a fall by:
- Making sure all rooms in your parent’s house are well lit and free of clutter, etc.;
- Broaching the topic of some adaptive equipment for the bathroom and maybe even a medical alert bracelet;
- Thanking your lucky stars that your aging parent is doing so well (many peoples’ parents are not)
Reason #4 You can hire enough help at home to meet your aging parent’s needs
Now we’ve arrived at the tricky place. If you can’t (or your parent can’t) afford to hire help at home, then ask yourself this: Can one of you afford the cost of a nursing home?
That’s right, folks! Medicare does not pay for nursing homes after the first 20 days and even then your aging parent must have a skilled need. So if you were thinking that a nursing home would be the most cost-effective long term care option for your parent, think again.
Nursing homes cost $10,000 – $13,000 per month depending upon where your aging parent lives. Yup, you read that right – $10,000 – $13,000 per MONTH if he/she doesn’t have Medicaid. Even at a cost of $20 per hour, home care would still cost less.
Reason #5 Your aging parent is connected to a physician whom they trust
It’s hard to overstate the value of your aging parent being known to a physician in the community who will take his/her calls and even more importantly, take interest in helping your parent to manage his/her health over time. It’s a priceless relationship and a move to a nursing home could sever it.
Once at the nursing home, your aging parent’s care will be managed by a staff physician who is required to follow the nursing home’s protocols.
Did this post leave you with questions? If so, I hope you’ll get in touch and let me answers them! There is no fee and no spam.
Are you a physical therapist or nursing home worker who would like to disagree with me about the contents of this post? If so, I’d welcome your comments below.