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Recognizing the Signs it’s Time For a Nursing Home

Contributing Author | Shield HealthCare
08/09/17  12:15 PM PST
signs it's time for a nursing home

Deciding to move your loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility can be a difficult decision riddled with conflicting feelings of guilt, relief, anxiety and grief. However, recognizing the signs it’s time for a higher level of care is key to the health and quality of life of your loved one.

There are many reasons why nursing homes are avoided. Caregivers typically feel anxious and guilty when considering moving their loved one into a nursing home or other type of care facility. Many may feel like its their duty to care for their loved one in their own home. Caregivers may also be concerned that a nursing home will not be able to provide the best care for their loved one and will result in a decline in the person’s happiness and quality of life.

Caregivers, ask yourself:

Ask yourself these questions when beginning the decision-making process:

  1. Am I facing difficulty in continuing hands-on care for my loved one?
  2. Am I feeling emotionally drained or perpetually exhausted?
  3. Does my loved one need rehabilitation or specialized care and supervision?


Also keep an eye out for these signs that you may want to start consider moving your loved one: 

  • You’ve hurt your back when lifting or helping your loved one
  • Your loved one’s disability has progressed to the point that safety is endangered
  • Your loved one has wandered and gotten lost more than once
  • Other major responsibilities are being neglected to the point of creating problems for you or your family
  • You’re experiencing chronic caregiver burnout
  • Your health is declining
  • Your personal relationships are suffering
  • You can’t meet all of your loved one’s needs
  • A nursing home is more affordable than paying for numerous at-home care services

Red Flags:

Watch for these red flags that your loved one is suffering mentally or physically:

  • Is your loved one saying she is eating but food is going bad in the fridge?
  • Is your loved one falling often or trying to hide bruises from you?
  • Can your loved one bathe by herself, dress herself and do laundry?
  • Is your loved one remembering to take the proper dosages of medication and the correct medications?
  • Does your loved one have a plan in case of emergency?
  • Is your loved one able to drive herself safely? If not, does she have alternative modes of transportation that are feasible for her to use?
  • Is your loved one staying on top of paying bills and taxes?
  • Is your loved one isolated from family and friends in their current environment?

Related Article: Fall Risk Checklist for Caregivers

It isn’t easy to pinpoint the exact time your loved one should transition to a nursing home. But you should keep monitoring these signs and explore potential assisted living options, well in advance of your loved one needing a higher level of care. The last thing you want to do is feel pressured to choose a nursing home while in “crisis mode” – like after a hospital visit, during an illness, or before a lease is up.

Remember it is okay to feel sadness, grief and even stress about moving your loved one into assisted living; keep in mind it is what is best for their health and happiness, as well as yours.

Related Article: Caring for an Elderly Parent: Preventing Sibling Disagreement






For more information, see related articles and resources here:

Recent Caregivers


  1. I have been specializing as an independent fitness therapist/wellness coach/liason and guide for my client and their families for 15 years. I have a BS is psychology and am certified as a NASM trainer, ISSA- with a specialization in geriatrics. I’d be interested in learning more on how I can provide additional products to help my clients navigate the challenges they face as they get older.

  2. Please add that another important consideration, is can the family or the loved one afford nursing home care? It can be quite expensive, after all.

  3. Considering the information in the article a better title may be: knowing the signs when it’s time for a higher level of care. Thank you for the information.

  4. Each case is unique and situations can be new.Thank you for the information and the advice to continually seek information. I would be a ship lost in a storm without access to your information. God bless.

  5. Anyone who is still able to drive doesn’t belong in a nursing home. If an elderly person CAN’T walk without falling, clean themselves properly, get to the toilet successfully, use the phone, or has very poor vision, poor health with alzheimer’s or parkinson’s……..they need to be in a nursing home. Most assisted living facilities have limits

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