When to Start the Search for Nursing Homes

search for nursing homesEight signs that the benefits of nursing homes are right for your loved one.*

Sudden changes in health, housing, family dynamics or financial stability often necessitate quick placement in a nursing home. In fact, the vast majority of nursing home moves occur in crisis situations. If you keep an eye out for these eight signs in your aging loved one now, you may be able to preempt a crisis. If you start your search for nursing homes sooner, you and your loved one will have time to talk about the advantages of nursing homes and plan ahead. With any luck, you’ll be able to move her into the skilled nursing facility of her choice before any of these issues get out of control.

Signs That It’s Time to Search for Nursing Homes

1. Loss of Mobility
If your loved one starts having trouble rising from sitting or ascending or descending stairs, he may be losing mobility or strength. Falls are a leading cause of serious injury and death for the elderly. So take loss of mobility seriously and think about the benefits of nursing homes with their nearby staff, and wheelchair—and walker—equipped facilities.

2. Decreased Appetite
Some loss of appetite is expected as people age and become less active. However, skipping meals or suddenly losing interest in cooking or eating healthfully is a sign that your loved one could benefit from the three square meals offered in a skilled nursing facility.

3. Dangerous Driving
Unexplained damage to a vehicle, driving citations, or sudden increases in auto insurance rates are all signs that your loved one’s vision, motor skills or cognitive awareness are limiting his ability to drive safely. Dangerous driving can harm both him and those around him. If you wouldn’t want him to drive you somewhere, consider talking with him about finding alternative transportation (complimentary transportation is one of the most celebrated advantages of nursing homes).

4. Diminished Communication Skills
If your loved one has increased difficulty following directions, finding words while speaking, or remembering events from the past or yesterday, her cognitive abilities may be decreasing. Loss of memory and a decrease in communication are signs that your loved one may need help in other areas of life. Start your search for nursing homes now while she is sharp enough to contribute to the discussion.

5. Less Care Toward Housekeeping
While busy lives and other priorities can crowd out anyone’s best housekeeping intentions, we can tell when someone is having particular trouble keeping up with household chores. The cause could be a loss physical ability, stamina or mental strength. One of the benefits of nursing homes is that they offer housekeeping and laundry services, and must maintain cleanliness to comply with safety codes.

6. Decreased Attention to Personal Care
If your usually well-kept aunt stopped brushing her hair, or if your grandfather started wearing the same dirty shirt every day, you’d know something was amiss. A decrease in attention to grooming and other personal care tasks may come about because of arthritis, pain, or other physical problems. Search for nursing homes or assisted living facilities that can assist your loved one with this activity of daily living.

7. Poor Medication Management
Overdosing, neglecting medications and taking expired drugs can all cause serious physical damage to an already compromised senior. If your loved one shows signs of poor medication management, don’t ignore your concern. This serious issue is dealt with at nursing homes by medical staff who oversee medication dispersal.

8. Financial Troubles
Large donations, creditor calls and loss of utility services are all signs that there are problems occurring in your loved one’s financial life. When funds are limited, this issue can be especially disturbing to family members. Talk to him respectfully about his spending. You may need to take over his bill paying or search for nursing homes that will help him in this area.

Advantages of Nursing Homes: When Help is Needed

Remember, there is no formula for knowing when your loved one is ready to experience the benefits of nursing home care. Just keep a keen eye out for these signs that her physical or mental capabilities are limiting her ability to function well on her own. Sudden changes in any of these areas are cause for concern. If you need help with your individual situation, talk to your doctor or your loved one’s geriatric care manager. Start Your Search for Nursing Homes

If any of these signs are familiar to you, start your search for nursing homes now. If multiple issues caught your attention, your loved one may be ready right now to benefit from the advantages of nursing home care. Simply fill out the search form at the top of this page to browse hundreds of nursing home facilities through our partner, Senior Homes. If you would like to speak with someone directly, call the toll-free number above. Our experienced elder care advisors are standing by to help you today, free of charge.

The Eldercare Handbook, by Stella Mora Henry, RN, 2006
Eckert and Associates, 2009