When is it time for a nursing home?

2 answers | Last updated: Nov 09, 2016
Momwacko asked...

What are some guidelines for nursing home care, as to when you put a parent into the nursing home? I am her sole caregiver and have a little outside help but she has few monetary resources and we use it to pay for medications, pullups, etc. I have enough stashed away to private pay the first month but I just need to know if there are things that will let me know when it is time. She is 80, had three strokes 15 years ago and would qualify for nursing home care. She was in for rehab last December and they know her status.

Expert Answers

Maria Basso Lipani writes a popular website on geriatric care topics, where she puts her expertise as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker to good use answering care planning questions. Maria is a graduate of Columbia University School of Social Work and is licensed in California and New York.

Your question raises one of the most challenging decisions caregivers face, so thanks for posting it. While there is no absolute right time to place a parent in a nursing home below are some guidelines.

First and foremost, you’ll have to assess how well the current situation is working.  To do so, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is your mom’s health fairly stable at this point?
  2. Is she safe and content at home and does she like being there?
  3. Is the help that you have enlisted enough to provide you with necessary breaks and can you continue to pay for that help for the foreseeable future?
  4. Are the resources that she is using to buy supplies enough to cover what she needs?

If you can answer “yes” to each of these questions then I don’t see a reason to transfer her now. Instead, use this time to find a facility you would be comfortable with and find out what the admissions process is for persons coming from home rather than from a hospital. Then, gather the necessary documents together so that you are ready. Also, do what you can to preserve the money you’ve stashed away to privately pay for the first month. If the nursing home you choose is a popular one, this money may make the difference in her admission.

If things are stable right now this is also a good time to explore other sources of help. For instance, every state has a caregiver support program that is funded with federal dollars. These programs can purchase supplies like the ones you mentioned (Ensure, Depends, etc.) and can often reimburse co-payments for medications too so long as the care receiver doesn’t have Medicaid. Perhaps this service would help stretch your resources. You can locate the program in your state by calling the Elder Care Locator at: 1-800-677-1116.

Should your mother’s health decline further to the point at which she requires more assistance to keep her safe and content than you can provide and still maintain your own health, or that you can afford to hire or, should the monetary resources you’ve been using for supplies dwindle to the point at which they can no longer adequately meet her needs, then placement may be your only option.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Hope prettygirlsox never gets old. That was very cruel thing to say.