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When Is It Time For a Nursing Home?

Most adult children of aging parents are reluctant to move their loved ones into a nursing home. However, many nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, offer excellent care for seniors and knowing when they are the right choice for someone can make the decision a little easier.

Phrases “skilled nursing,” “assisted living,” and “nursing home” are often used interchangeably, but they are not all the same. A nursing home is where a senior receives what is referred to as skilled care, while Assisted Living communities focus on help with activities of daily living which can be delivered by aides under the suprevision of a nurse. Skilled nursing indicates that the expertise of a skilled nurse is required for the individual’s care.

Senior Care at a Nursing Home

The primary focus of a nursing home is a resident’s skilled care needs. Most nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), offer shared rooms, meals, and 24-hour care. Along with attending to a patient’s medical needs, most SNFs offer rigorous physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

These are just a few of the skilled services a nurse can provide:

  1. Intravenous (IV) or intramuscular injections
  2. Application of a topical involving medications or prescriptions
  3. Enteral feeding, or “tube feedings”
  4. Treatment of skin disorders, post-operative wound care and complex dressings
  5. Insertion and replacement of catheters
  6. Injectibles

Some patients might stay at a nursing home temporarily (in rehab), such as when recovering from surgery. However, patients with persistent medical needs, physical limitations or needing Medicaid support to pay for their care might live in a skilled nursing facility permanently.

When Is a Nursing Home Right for a Loved One?

A skilled nursing facility is typically considered the highest level of care outside of the hospital setting. Sometimes, a senior may need to stay in a SNF short-term if they require acute medical treatment or are undergoing physical rehabilitation. A long-term placement in a skilled nursing setting is considered the best option if the individual has chronic or complex medical conditions and requires 24/7 care from a registered nurse.

To determine if a skilled nursing facility is right for a loved one, consider the following questions:

• Do they need 24-hour care or care beyond their caregiver’s abilities? For instance, some individuals might struggle to administer injections or may need two or more people to assist them in transferring from a chair or bed.

• Does the patient have a degenerative condition that progresses over time? If so, continuous monitoring by trained nursing staff may be needed for ensuring proper care.

• Would they be safer or even more comfortable in a nursing home facility?

• Are they currently recovering from surgery, injury, or stroke?

• Do they fall frequently? If so, a nursing home may provide them with the 24-hour care they need.

If these questions are not applicable to the senior, it’s possible that an assisted living setting or home health services would be a better fit for the person.

A primary healthcare provider may advise on the best care options for senior care and whether their care needs rise to the level of skilled care. Don’t hesitate to ask them about a family member’s condition and for recommendations on ensuring their overall health and well-being.

For guidance in choosing the correct level of care for a senior, please contact Oasis Senior Advisors 475.619.4123 or 914.356.1901 or fill out an inquiry form on our website.

Oasis Senior Advisors


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Paul and Susan Doyle

Certified Senior Advisor®

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