Few decisions are harder than choosing whether or not you need to place an aging parent into a long-term care facility. Unfortunately, for many, the scenario is unavoidable. A person turning 65 today has a 70% chance of needing some form of long-term care, and 20% will need it for five or more years.
As difficult as it may be, there will likely be a time when the pros of placing your parent in long-term care far outweigh the cons. Here are four telltale signs that may suggest a nursing home is necessary for your parent:
1. They forget important details
If you’ve begun to observe signs of declining cognition, you may want to discuss long-term care options with your loved one while they still can voice their preferences. If your parent often seems confused, misses important appointments or forgets to pay their bills, it could be indicative of worsening cognitive impairment.
2. They’re no longer on top of personal hygiene
Poor personal hygiene alone isn’t necessarily a red flag; however, if your parent is struggling with other everyday tasks – like cooking or driving – along with cleanliness, it may be a sign it’s time to consider assisted care. A bad odor or messy grooming habits could suggest your parent no longer can take care of themselves.
3. They’re physically frail
In addition to the natural physical decline that accompanies aging, acute medical problems such as a stroke, fall or complication from surgery can arise suddenly and make long-term care an urgent necessity. Not all medical conditions are predictable, but ensuring your parent regularly gets assessed by their health care provider can help you anticipate some medical concerns and plan ahead.
4. You need help with their care
Sometimes, the decision to place your parent into long-term care has more to do with you than it does them. No matter how much you may love your parent, it isn’t always possible for you to provide them with the care and attention they require. It’s essential to be upfront with your family on what you can and cannot offer.
Ultimately, placing your parent in long-term care is a very personal decision with no definite “right” time. Having a preemptive conversation with your parents about the future of their care can help make the decision easier for everyone when the time comes.