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Do I Need a Nursing Home?

do-i-need-a-nursing-home-1According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the fastest growing segment of the population in the world “On a global level, the 85-and-over population is projected to increase 351 percent between 2010 and 2050, compared to an 188 percent increase in the population aged 65 or older and a 22 percent increase in the population under age 65,” says the NIA.

This is good news, but it also presents some challenges for society. As we age, mobility and health decline. For those committed to retaining their independence, it might be difficult to accurately assess the right time to seek out full-time care or to determine if nursing home alternatives are required. This article offers some healthcare considerations to factor in when it’s time to decide if you or a loved one should consider a long-term care facility or if aging in place remains a possibility.

Care Considerations

Because the aging process is unique to each individual, there is not a set age, physical or mental marker that denotes the exact time to transition into a nursing home. Dr. Peter Rabins, with Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center, says a number of factors determine whether nursing home care is the right decision, “The development of a physical impairment, or physical needs that the caregiver can no longer meet, becomes a common trigger for the family to finally decide that it’s really best for the person to be in long-term care,” he says.

Although they differ from one person to the next, here are some common signs that it might be time to consider a nursing home, courtesy of Caring.com:

  • Frequent accidents around the home that result in cuts, bruises or broken bones
  • A chronic health condition that is worsening and slow to heal
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Changes in physical appearance, looking unkempt or wearing unwashed clothes
  • Increasing difficulty in dressing, bathing or brushing teeth independently
  • Unpaid bills or unopened mail piling up
  • Stale, spoiled and old food in the refrigerator
  • Signs that there has been a fire in the kitchen
  • Housekeeping is becoming lax
  • Pets and plants aren’t being cared for
  • Frequently confused about common names and places

Before making the final decision, some caregivers seek out medical opinions and may choose to consult a family priest or pastor. Fortunately, aging is a gradual process allowing time to plan for nursing home alternatives.

Upgrades that Can Be Nursing Home Alternatives

It’s worth noting that the number of people looking for an alternative to nursing home placement is increasing. A 2014 U.S. Census Bureau report revealed that during the 2000’s, the volume of individuals opting to live in residential care facilities declined, down about 20 percent from the prior decade. In other words, more seniors are deciding to age in place.

It makes sense that independent-minded seniors would want to continue to enjoy their homes for as long as they can. However, the average home can hold hidden hazards that may put seniors at risk – especially if they have mobility or other age-related issues.

If you are a senior that has decided to enjoy living at home for the foreseeable future and put off nursing facility life as long as possible, there are several fixes to consider to make your home safer.

  • Keep Halls and Entryways Clear

    Side tables, throw rugs, electrical cords, and side tables can present tripping hazards. Remove all unnecessary items.

  • Get Slip-Proof Throw Rugs

    If you must have a throw rug in an entryway, kitchen or another slippery floor surface, make certain it has a rubberized bottom so it won’t result in accidental falls.

  • Stay Balanced with Rails and Bars

    Rails can be easily added in bedrooms and bathrooms to help seniors remain balanced. A suction cup grab bar can be installed in showers and tubs for the same purpose.

  • Add More Light

    Safety may be a matter of increasing the wattage with LED light bulbs or adding lamps in darker sections of a home. Adding night lights can also facilitate a safer journey between the bedroom, the bathroom, and the kitchen.

Major Upgrades May Be an Alternative to Nursing Home Placement

If you are planning significant upgrades to your home, you may want to consult a contractor or handyman that specializes in senior safety upgrades. Although these upgrades may be costlier, the expenses will likely be far less than the costs associated with in-home injuries or nursing home expenses.

For instance, ask professionals about …

  • Keeping stairs safe by installing handrails and repairing broken steps
  • Installing an in-home elevator to eliminate stair-related risks altogether
  • Consider installing a safe shower or walk-in bathtub.
  • Get a smart stove with automatic shut-off valves to prevent fire hazards, or have a handyman install a shutoff valve for each burner.

These are just a few suggestions to consider. If you would like to see a comprehensive list of enhancements that will make your home more “senior friendly,” be sure to read our new free guide, Safe Home. Happy Home. Download it now!