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Many adults in America are currently providing full or part-time care for their elderly parents, and that is as it should be. We are serving the generation who served us. However, there may come a time when you are no longer physically, emotionally, mentally, or financially able to provide all of the care your aging parent(s) need. Some adults are still raising their own children while Mom or Dad also require their daily support, and others cannot financially survive and quit their job to provide adequate care for their aging loved one. So how do you know if it’s the right time to move Mom or Dad into a nursing home?

It’s important to note that nursing homes are generally for seniors who need daily medical treatment and support with activities of daily living. It is different from assisted living or retirement communities in that the patients are typically unable to provide basic care (eating, grooming, moving, pain management, etc.) for themselves and therefore require the daily support that trained professionals can supply.

The decision is not an easy one and the process can be overwhelming, so if you have family who can help weigh in then it’s a good idea to bring everyone together for a family meeting. Some families choose to include their elderly parents in the decision-making process, and some do not, but either way, it’s important to break the news from a place of love, compassion, and understanding.

Here are a few signs that it may be time to start researching and thinking about moving your parents into a place that can best serve their changing needs.


When an aging adult is involved in a life-altering injury such as a fall or car accident, you may very well be forced into making a quick decision about placing them in a nursing home. It may seem far-fetched, but falls and the complications that typically follow are the leading cause of death in adults aged 65 and older.

Remember that nursing homes can be a transitional housing solution for seniors recovering from a surgery or illness; it is not always a permanent placement.

Oftentimes family members alone are not able to provide the medical care and treatment that comes with recovery for an elderly family member, and if it’s too expensive or not possible to bring a skilled caregiver to the home then placed in a nursing home can be the most viable solution. When the patient has recovered enough to feed, move, and bathe themselves then they can be moved to a physical therapy unit or even return home.

Ongoing Illness or Disease

Cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, heart failure, diabetes, Parkinson’s, and a host of other illnesses all play a large part in the health issues of the aging population. Some of these diseases can be managed for years before they take away a person’s ability to care for themselves, but when that happens it may be time to consider placement in a nursing home.

Late stage cognitive decline diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s can take away a person’s ability to think rationally or remember to perform common daily tasks like eating and bathing. They may be physically able to do those things but have no will or desire to. Other diseases completely debilitate a person so that they are unable to physically perform activities of daily living (ADLs), even though their minds and reasoning skills are still sharp. In either situation, it may be necessary to place your aging loved one in a nursing home that can meet all of their needs.

End of Life Care

If a doctor has determined that a person has less than six months to live (usually because of a disease or illness) they can be placed on hospice, which is a medical term that enables the patient and the family to have access to a host of support benefits and treatments from professionals, and it’s often all or mostly covered by Medicare and other programs. Oftentimes this can take place in the hospital or home of the patient, but sometimes it happens in nursing homes. Typically there is round the clock care (or very near that) by medical staff to help with pain management, feeding, grooming, and the general comfort of the patient. It is meant to improve the quality of the last months of a person’s life, while also giving support to the grieving and exhausted family members.

As was stated before, nursing home placement is not always a permanent housing solution for seniors. When researching and deciding on a home that best fits the needs of your family there are a lot of issues to consider. For help in starting in the right direction read Nursing Home Tours: Questions to Ask and Nursing Home Safety: What You Need to Know.