Some cons of nursing homes include the high cost, loss of freedom, less privacy, limited visitation options and the risk of neglectful or abusive nursing home employees. Nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities offer essential medical care to individuals who can’t care for themselves due to disabilities, progressive medical conditions, surgery, injuries or other impairments. For many people, a nursing home offers the level of skilled care necessary for their situation, either permanently or temporarily while recovering. However, this long-term care option comes with potential issues that could affect quality of life. 

Why Can Nursing Homes Be a Negative Experience?

Despite providing the appropriate level of care for many seniors and people with disabilities, nursing homes can have negatives that are worth considering. Some of those include:

  • Cost: The median national monthly cost of nursing home care is $7,908 for a semiprivate room and $9,034 for a private room. Retirement savings and proceeds from selling a home can help cover the costs, but affording a nursing home long-term can be difficult for many people. 
  • Loss of freedom and privacy: Living in a skilled nursing facility often means being put on a structured schedule. Residents often can’t do what they want at any time and can’t come and go as they please. With caregivers in and out of the room, privacy is also limited. Many people struggle to give up that freedom and flexibility. 
  • Visitation policies: Nursing homes often have stricter visitor policies than assisted living communities. Friends and relatives might only be able to visit during certain times. This can contribute to feeling isolated or lonely. 
  • Poor care: The quality of care provided can vary significantly between nursing homes. In severe cases, staff members might abuse, neglect or mistreat residents, resulting in physical and psychological damage.

Researching nursing homes can help you find an option that minimizes the negatives of the move. It can also take time for residents to adjust to the structure and loss of freedom that comes with living in a nursing home. 

Is a Nursing Home the Right Choice?

All long-term care options come with pros and cons, so deciding if a nursing home is the right choice comes down to individual needs. Some people need round-the-clock skilled nursing to manage their conditions. They can’t safely live alone or take care of themselves without a higher level of care, so a nursing home is often the appropriate care setting. 

Assisted living is an alternative for seniors who don’t need medical care. The caregivers in an assisted living community help with personal care needs, such as bathing, getting dressed and doing laundry. However, the staff generally won’t help with any medical care, so people who need more extensive care might not qualify. 

Home care is an alternative for people who want to age in place. In-home caregivers can provide varying levels of assistance, from help with personal care to more advanced medical care and therapy options. Drawbacks of this option include ongoing home maintenance, social isolation, varying costs depending on needs and fewer programs like exercise and nutrition services.