It can be a trying and difficult time when youre trying to decide whether your loved one needs long term nursing care. It is often a time marked by intense emotional upheavals and can cause major problems within a family. If your loved one is not coping well with living alone, long term nursing care may be the best option. There are some outward signs you can look for that will help you know if your loved one needs long term nursing care. You should check for these signs on a regular basis, as mental and physical problems can manifest quickly in the elderly.
Assess their living conditions and hygiene. Often, problems with mobility or cognitive function result in less-than-ideal housekeeping and personal care. An elderly individual may lose the ability to keep their home clean, mow the lawn or wash their own clothing and body. This is a problem which may be blatant, or it could be something that is more insidious in its onset.
Elderly individuals may have trouble getting to the grocery store, shopping and preparing meals. They may be able to purchase food and prepare it, but it could be that they are neglecting their nutritional needs due to an inability to discern which foods they should be buying. They may also prepare foods in an unsafe manner, which could lead to illness. Meal preparation may become more difficult due to mental or physical deterioration, leading to skipped meals and poor nutrition.
Your loved one may begin to miss regular payments for bills or may forget to deposit checks into their account. Review their finances and make sure theyre keeping up with everything. Failure to do so may signal cognitive decline.
If your loved one is having trouble getting around, it may be a sign theyre ready for long term nursing care. Climbing stairs, navigating walkways and other activities may become increasingly difficult for an elderly individual; small tasks which seem easy can become overwhelmingly difficult as mobility decreases.
Confusion and an inability to recall simple information such as address and telephone number may signal a decline in cognitive function and a loss of mental acuity. This type of decline makes it difficult for your loved one to handle the typical day-to-day tasks associated with daily life. It may also be a harbinger of the onset of dementia. You may also notice that as their memory declines, it becomes more difficult for your loved one to remember to take necessary medications. This may result in problems from inadequate medication, or overdose if theyve already taken their medicine and then forgot and took it again.
Get a Second Opinion
Ask your loved ones primary care physician to assess their ability to live alone. If the doctor clears them, theyre most likely all right, for now. If not, it may be time to discuss the option of long term nursing care.