Are nursing homes a good option for me?

by the Editor, SeniorInsider | Jun 01, 2011

Generally speaking, nursing homes are not a place which seniors look forward to moving into, however it’s important to know that in the past few years, the “institutional” feel of nursing homes has changed to a more home-like atmosphere.  

While most of us would choose to push back this “day of reckoning” for as long as possible, in some instances, it may no longer be viable to either live in your own home, or in an assisted living facility. With more than 15,000 nursing homes currently operating in the United States, any city that is even a modest size should have a good selection of homes within a short drive.

Common Misconceptions Regarding Nursing Homes

Many people have the false belief that nursing homes are only for those people who have no family members who truly care about them. Today’s society is full of smaller families who live farther apart, and generally work outside the home, meaning that no matter how much your family cares about you, they simply don’t have the resources to provide the level of senior care you need.

Another misconception is that all nursing homes are poorly run and you will receive substandard care. There are actually more and more safeguards in place for nursing homes, and many of them provide exemplary care to their residents. You may also feel that entering a nursing home will mean you will never leave—and realistically you may be right. However, consider carefully whether you can get the medical care and support services you need should you stay in your own home.

Evaluation for Nursing Homes

If you are unsure whether it is time for you to consider a nursing home, you might want to discuss the possibility with family members or close friends. You could also have an honest conversation with your primary care physician, or even make an appointment with a geriatrician who can thoroughly evaluate your physical and mental status.

Most important is your ability to easily handle the chores of daily living such as getting dressed, bathing, remembering to take critical medication, shopping for groceries and preparing your own meals, or getting out of the house for important social interactions. Your health will be a crucial part of this evaluation, as those with chronic diseases, or those who could easily fall and injure themselves are prime candidates for nursing homes.

Proximity of Family to Nursing Homes

In order to keep feelings of isolation and depression at bay, you will likely want to remain as close to family members as possible, so this is a prime consideration when looking at nursing homes. The ability for loved ones to drop by and visit, or long-time neighbors to stop in to see you, can be a primary factor when choosing a nursing home. Close proximity also makes it much easier for family members to keep close tabs on the level of care you are receiving.

What Kinds of Living Arrangements Do Nursing Homes Offer?

Although the layout will vary widely from one nursing home to another, in general you will either have a private room with a shared bath, or will share a room and a bath with another resident.  Most nursing homes are set up to provide medical attention, although some newer facilities have the feel of a small community, housing from 10-30 people within a large home, and offering private kitchens communal areas and a good continuity of staff.

When deciding if a nursing home is a good option for you, consider carefully whether your specific needs can be met safely in any other type of housing situation, and you will likely have your answer as to whether it is the right time in your life to consider a nursing home.



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