When To Consider A Nursing Home

When To Consider Nursing Home

Before you finally decide to go into a nursing home, it is important to consider whether it is the best option for you or a family member. But the question is, when is it time for a nursing home, instead of a different senior living option, like assisted living? 

Nursing homes, also called skilled nursing facilities or convalescent homes, may be the right choice for seniors with high daily needs or health concerns. 

To help determine if you or your senior loved one would benefit from this highly specialized and intensive care type, we’ve prepared a guide consisting of questions and signs that can help you tell when to consider a nursing home.

Questions To Ask Yourself Or Senior Family Member

1. Are they recovering from an injury, stroke, or surgery?

Although many seniors permanently reside in a skilled nursing facility, they may also temporarily relocate there to recover from a serious medical incident. In these situations, if seniors and their families prefer more frequent care or think they’ll get better outcomes, they might choose a nursing home over in-home rehabilitation.

2. Do they need access to 24-hour skilled medical care?

If the response is affirmative, putting your parents in a nursing home could be appropriate. The necessity for it frequently emerges when a patient’s health issues have gotten too complicated or crippling for other, more moderate care.

3. Do they have a complex, progressive, or cognitive health condition?

Nursing home care may be necessary for senior citizens with advanced cognitive ailments like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, as well as complex, progressive conditions like Parkinson’s disease and muscular dystrophy. It frequently depends on how much care they require to manage their diseases and how many difficulties they encounter.

4. Do they fall frequently?

The question, “When should I consider a nursing home?” Is possibly reflected in your parent’s ability to move. Falls pose a major, occasionally fatal risk to the elderly. Falls are a major sign that an elderly loved one can no longer live safely at home if they happen frequently. Staff members at nursing homes have experience caring for elderly patients with mobility issues, and the facilities are built to reduce safety hazards.

5. Do they use a wheelchair? Are they bedbound?

Greater care, including transfers and an escort to medical appointments, social events, meals, and more, may be necessary for seniors who use a wheelchair and cannot shift to their bed or use the bathroom independently. Nursing homes can fill this demand. If your loved one is confined to their bed, it might be time to consider a nursing home. They may need assistance from skilled care providers with incontinence, bedsores, and many ADLs.

6. Can they no longer feed themselves or maintain their dental health?

Staff members assist a wide range of ADLs at skilled nursing facilities, frequently taking care of more complex needs than in assisted living communities. Two examples include feeding and keeping one’s teeth clean. The staff of the nursing home frequently helps with feeding. 

In other words, when a loved one cannot carry out these essential daily chores, that may be the time to place them in a nursing facility. Additionally, dental examinations, tooth cleanings, and other procedures are included in nursing home care to support seniors’ dental health.

Questions For The Caregivers

Deciding whether a senior loved one should move into a nursing home is a decision that should be made by the senior and their family members. 

When a loved one’s care is being considered for placement in a nursing home or other care facility, caregivers may experience anxiety and guilt. Many people might believe it is their responsibility to care for their loved ones at home.

So if you are a family member caring for an older loved one, you may ask yourself the following questions to help you decide:

  1. Am I facing difficulty in continuing hands-on care for my loved one?
  2. Am I experiencing emotional exhaustion or never-ending fatigue?
  3. Does my loved one require rehabilitation or professional supervision and care?

You may also keep an eye out for these signs:

  • Whenever you lift or assist a loved one, your back becomes sore.
  • The severity of your loved one’s impairment has increased to the point where safety is now in jeopardy.
  • More than once, your loved one has strayed off and become lost.
  • Other crucial obligations are being disregarded to the extent that they put you or your family in danger.
  • Chronic caregiver burnout affects you.
  • Your health is becoming worse.
  • Your intimate connections are deteriorating.
  • Not all of your loved one’s needs can be met by you.
  • A nursing home is cheaper than paying for various at-home care services.


When moving a loved one into a nursing home is a difficult decision. But far before your loved one requires a higher level of care, you should watch out for these symptoms and look into prospective assisted living options. The last thing you want is to feel compelled to select a nursing home when in a “crisis mode”—for example, right after a hospital stay, during an illness, or just before your lease expires.

Remember that it’s normal to experience loss, grief, and even stress while deciding to place a loved one in assisted living; keep in mind that it’s best for both your well-being and theirs.