In this four-part series on finding skilled nursing, we’ll break down signs that your loved one needs this kind of care, how to talk about it with your family, what and how you can expect to pay, and ways you can find the right skilled nursing location for your loved one.
The holidays have come and gone, and you were glad to see your family all together in one place. But one thing you noticed over the past few weeks was your mother’s rapidly declining health. She doesn’t drive anymore, needs help taking her medications, and is beginning to have trouble walking.
Does this mean she needs to move to a skilled nursing community?
Signs Your Loved One Needs Skilled Nursing
Skilled nursing - sometimes called long-term care- is a place for people who need help with daily functions as well as professional medical care.
A single sign, such as forgetting to return a phone call or missing an appointment, doesn’t mean that your loved one is ready to move into skilled nursing. Rather, a clear pattern of diminished physical or mental abilities is what you should watch for.
Inability to manage responsibilities
Daily life requires us to juggle all kinds of things - appointments, phone calls, bills, money management, and more. People of any age are bound to forget something at times, so don’t be worried if this happens once or twice with your loved one.
However, if they’re having trouble remembering to pay bills each month, can’t make it to important appointments, or seem overwhelmed with these things, take note.
Declining physical health and abilities
This is one of the most obvious signs to look for. You’ll notice this if your loved one has trouble getting around, keeping themselves and their home clean, or feeding themselves.
If you’re still not sure where your loved one falls on this spectrum, try using a tool like the Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living. The lower the score, the more help your loved one will require so they can function each day.
Related: Is assisted living a better fit? Get tips for choosing the right location >>
Consider Your Own Ability to Help
If you or other family members are able to provide the care your loved one needs on a daily basis, you may be able to delay them moving to skilled nursing. But if you don’t live close by, can’t get time off to help, or are financially unable to provide care, this won’t be an option.
The University of Connecticut Health Center’s medical director for senior health, Dr. Patrick Coll, told U.S. News & World Report, "There's a lot of responsibility that comes with being a primary caregiver for someone who has a particular disability or illness. That can have an impact on the caregiver's own health; their finances; the relationship they have with others in their family.”
Make sure you consider these things as you decide which option you need to pursue.
In the next part of this four-part series on skilled nursing, you’ll learn how to talk to your loved one and other family members about your concerns, and what to decide for next steps.
Your Guide to Skilled Nursing
Navigating the world of skilled nursing can be tricky if you're new to the topic. That's why we've put together a free guide to help you understand how to choose a skilled nursing community, how much it costs, and more.
Download the entire guide here.