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Is My Loved One Ready for Long-Term Care?

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Is My Loved One Ready for Long-Term Care?

Is My Loved One Ready for Long-Term Care?

Is my loved one ready for long-term care? Well, the term "ready" is a tough one. When it comes to moving to a nursing care community, "ready" probably isn't a common feeling elders can relate to. So, if you are waiting around for you or your loved one to feel ready, it's important to acknowledge the feeling may never come. Rather, it is a decision you must arrive at from a logical point of view, even if your emotions need a little time to catch up. So, the task then turns to recognizing the signs that change is needed. Here are a few questions to help you arrive at the best decision for your loved one.

  1. Do they currently have the best quality of life possible?

We often feel that keeping family members in their home is the most advantageous approach for their wellbeing. Sure, there can be a period of time where being in a familiar setting, with the comforts of home, can add to positive outcomes. However, there are other areas of concern that may begin to surface as their needs progress. For example, isolation can be a common struggle when it becomes more of a hardship to leave the home, due most commonly to mobility. Once isolation sets in, boredom and loneliness can be sure to follow. If left unattended, boredom and loneliness lead to depression and anxiety. Many families who initially felt sensations of guilt after making the decision are instantly relieved when they see their loved one transform. It is common to see elders return to a vibrancy that had long gone dormant. With a variety of opportunities to be social and participate in a mix of interesting activities, elders are more likely to have fulfilling daily experiences. Consider your loved one's daily lifestyle, if it consists of very limited interactions with a dull approach to passing time, it could be a sign that their social and emotional wellbeing is compromised. Consider looking into a care community, not only for the nursing support, but for the social aspect that can be transformative to your loved one's life.

  1. Have their needs exceeded what we can safely manage at home?

Sometimes it is the complexity of care needs that can prompt a change, other times, it is the logistics of the home. Let's tackle the topic of the home first. For example, your loved one may move from using a cane, to a walker, and finally to a wheelchair. As this progression happens, the accommodations required in the home may present more and more difficulties. The widening of doorways, essential bathroom renovations, or the additions of ramps and lifts may be unrealistic in the current home. More importantly, not having these items in place could prompt serious safety concerns. On the other hand, some may find it is the clinical complexities that have grown to a point the elder needs a nurse present and available around the clock. Once it becomes apparent that a clinician's presence is required more often, it could indicate that your loved one's safety could be at risk. If either of these scenarios sounds familiar, it is possible you have reached the limit on what can be managed safely at home. From the clinical expertise to the handicapped accessible set up, the ease of caring for your loved one in a community might make the most sense at this stage.

  1. Are you experiencing signs of caregiver burnout?

If you are caring for an elder at home, you must understand that their condition could be greatly compromised when care is delivered by an exhausted, burnout caregiver. Not only is there a higher chance of making costly mistakes like mixing up medication, but there is also the probability that each day looks more like survival rather than thriving. Burnout caregivers may be showing signs of anger, depression, anxiety, and personal health decline. If left unattended, this can be costly for both the caregiver and the elder. Let's face it, it takes an entire team of people to provide nursing care, daily grooming and hygiene, well-balanced meals, engaging activities, transportation to appointments, and social engagement to entice proper intellectual, mental, and emotional stimulation. It's no wonder caregivers get burnout over time. They are attempting to accomplish all of these things while also tending to their own needs too. It is simply too much. This is why the day to day can easily slip into only surviving. Good intentions eventually move to good enough. Nutritious meals become "whatever is easiest," and intellectual engagement begins to look like watching television for hours. If this is relatable, it could be time to shift into the role of husband, wife, daughter, or son again and allow a team of professionals to step in as care partners.

Making a decision of this magnitude will always be difficult in one way or the other. Commit to knowing it is the right time, even if you never feel ready. Make the decision that will allow your loved one to achieve the highest quality of life possible. If you aren't sure, start by visiting communities in your area to learn more about the care and lifestyle they offer. Ask hard questions and look for those who ask you just as many questions about your loved one's interests, personality, habits, and care needs. Look for those who will be great partners in making life good for your loved one.

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