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November 28, 2020


How Do I Know If an Elderly Loved One Needs a Nursing Home?

One of the most challenging questions family members will find themselves asking as their loved one ages is whether or not to place that loved one in a nursing home. Every situation is unique, A daughter giving her mother an embrace.and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Instead, you must consider all of the factors and then decide if nursing home care is the right move or if there are more suitable alternatives.

Typically, a nursing home is for long-term care, which means your loved one has a medical condition or their age, and the issues that come with it, have left them requiring assistance. Nursing homes are not the same as assisted living facilities. Assisted living facilities are more independent, while nursing homes focus on medical care along with daily assistance.

Take your time making this decision, consider all of your options, and seek outside help, if necessary, so that you can feel confident you have made the right choice. While below we list some factors that might help you decide, only you can know what is truly the best option for your family.

Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether Your Loved One Needs a Nursing Home

As a family caregiver, you may feel guilty even considering a nursing home, or you may feel obligated to care for your family member even at your own expense. What you have to remember while making this decision is that it is about what is best for your loved one, and one of the most important items is the level of care they will receive. A tired, stressed, or overwhelmed caregiver cannot provide the level of care someone deserves.

1. Ask Yourself a Few Questions before Going Further.

If you debate whether or not to send a family member to a nursing home, you need to ask yourself a few critical questions.

First, are you having difficulty providing them with hands-on care? Have they required assistance already, and while it was manageable at first, are you now struggling to provide the level of care they need?

Second, are you emotionally exhausted or physically drained? It is imperative to assess your needs and health along with your loved one’s health.

Third, does your loved one require specialized care? Perhaps they have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, or maybe they suffer from a mobility condition that requires assistance. Are you able to provide the level of care they need with these conditions? Often, when a loved one has a condition that requires specialized care, it is best to find a nursing home that offers it. For example, some nursing homes provide Alzheimer’s care. This means only caretakers who specialize in Alzheimer’s patients are in that wing, and they have extra precautions and procedures in place to help someone with that disease.

2. Are You Physically, Emotionally, or Mentally Unable to Provide the Care Your Loved One Needs?

Your loved one might need assistance getting up and around. If you cannot physically lift them, or you are injuring yourself trying to move them from Point A to Point B, it may be time to use a nursing home.

Likewise, if your own mental and physical health is declining because you cannot care for yourself, you may consider using a nursing home to supplement where you cannot.

3. Your Loved One Has Suffered because of Care You Cannot Provide.

While you may feel obligated to care for a loved one, it might not be possible for you to do so. For example, you may have a loved one who has dementia and they have already wandered off, gotten lost, or even hurt themselves because they forgot who they were, where they were, or who you are. You cannot watch someone 24 hours a day, and when you have someone with dementia, they need a specialized level of care.

Likewise, if your loved one’s health and safety have become compromised because you cannot provide the care they need, you may want to consider outside sources.

4. You Cannot Afford In-Home Care or In-Home Care Is Not an Option.

One option to lighten the load is to hire in-home care. They can provide care, so you can get rest yourself, allow you to work, or even just take a break. However, if you cannot afford in-home care, or it is not an option due to your living situation, then a nursing home could be a better alternative.

No Matter What, You Should Plan Now

While these are four factors that might help you decide whether to use a nursing home, you should plan ahead and start looking at homes just in case the time comes. If you wait until you need nursing home care, you may find yourself searching for the first available bed versus the best nursing home possible for your loved one’s needs.

You can start visiting, touring, and researching facilities early on – even if you feel you are nowhere near needing a nursing home just yet. Likewise, you can begin planning financially for the cost of a nursing home.

Medicare Planning

Your loved one may already qualify for Medicare, but nursing home or long-term care is not automatically covered under Medicare. Also, Medicare does not cover custodial care, even under their Part A program. Instead, this only covers skilled nursing care, which means that it has been deemed medically necessary for a loved one to receive nursing home care. Even if your loved one ends up qualifying for Part A coverage, there are strict limitations and you will still have a daily payout required. As of 2020, that payout was $176 per day for the following 100 days of nursing home care.

Medicaid Planning

Medicaid is available to the disabled and elderly, and it is based on income rather than just your age. It can be used to help pay for nursing home care, but requires you to pay down your assets before you qualify – meaning your loved one may have to give up or transfer assets a few years before needing a nursing home to qualify.

Regardless of what your home situation is like right now, you need to start planning as if nursing home care was needed tomorrow. The lookback period for Medicaid is a few years, and that means you must pay down assets now to cover nursing home costs in the future.

To explore your options for Medicare and Medicaid planning, or set up a full estate plan that protects your loved ones in the future if you need nursing home care, contact the Law Office Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. Schedule a no-obligation case evaluation, including a video consultation for those who do not wish to travel, by calling the office or using the online contact form.