When to Have the Talk

There is never a good time to think about a loved one’s declining health. And the discussion about seeking nursing home care is difficult for all family members involved. Still, there are signals you can look for that it’s time to sit down and consider long term care options.

Isolation/Depression: Is your loved one becoming more distant and isolated from social contact? A change in eating habits and interest in activities is another sign to look for.

Impaired daily activities: Watch for signs that your loved one is having trouble walking, dressing or eating. Any daily activities marred by accidents might be noteworthy. Also, try to pay attention to an increased occurrence of falling or bruising.

Cognitive Ability: Try to assess your loved one’s ability to mentally reason at levels that ensure their personal safety and the safety of others.

Increasing Medical Needs: Take note of your loved one’s medical needs. Are they being provided for? Is the medication stable, or will it be increased? Does he or she need more and more help taking medications? Does he or she use medical equipment like an oxygen tank or need daily or weekly treatments like dialysis?

Caregiver Exhaustion: Is a family caregiver worn out due to the amount of care your loved one needs? Is your loved one in need of rehabilitative care? Medication Errors/Missed Doctor’s Appointments: Consider whether your loved one might be confusing medications, taking them incorrectly or not taking them at all, and if they are keeping their doctor’s appointments?.

Household Management: How is your loved managing around the house? Are they able to take care of things such as balancing their checkbook and paying bills on time? Is there a dramatic change in how the house is kept?

After you take a hard look at these issues, you will be better able to determine if nursing care is needed. It isn’t an easy decision for any family to make, but waiting until something more serious develops isn’t a good option either.