There comes a point in every adult's life where some important questions need to be asked: Are my parents still safe in their home? Do they need assistance with average, daily activities? Are certain household tasks becoming too difficult for them? Is home ownership becoming too much for them? Unfortunately, these are decisions that we all must face as we age, and often times these decisions are left to family members of an aging senior citizen. This is when the conversation about nursing homes usually comes up.
Nursing homes tend to have a negative connotation with aging, but sometimes they really do make the most sense for a senior's own health and safety. It can be frightful to leave a loved one's care in the hands of a perfect stranger, but if you're thinking about a nursing home for a family member, or even for yourself, you'll want to know the many pros and cons of moving to one and living there full-time.
Pro: Full-Time Care
As family members age, it becomes increasingly difficult to care for them ourselves. Busy schedules and a lack of medical training can potentially lead to declining health in our senior family members when we are not fully able to care for them. When living in a nursing home, your loved ones are offered round-the-clock, full-time care by qualified healthcare professionals and talented doctors. Should something go wrong in the middle of the night, there are typically nurses on staff that are available to come and help in an instant. During regular daytime hours, most nursing homes have highly qualified doctors for further senior care that you wouldn't be able to provide to them yourself. This can provide a sense of reassurance to both you and your family members that your loved ones are being cared for properly at all hours of the day.
One of the biggest downfalls of a nursing home is the high cost of living. It can cost families thousands of dollars a year to put a senior family member into a nursing home, and it's often not an expense that the family is ready to handle just yet. If parents have set aside part of their retirement savings to cover the costs of living in a nursing home, then it shouldn't be too much of an issue. But if that money isn't available, nursing homes might not be a feasible option for many families.
Pro: Structured Schedules
It's often easier for aging adults to function when on a more structured schedule. But if an elderly parent is living in a home with their children, who might also have children of their own and busy work, school and social schedules, it can be difficult for the senior family member to get themselves on a regular schedule. As we age, it becomes increasingly important to stay on a schedule, so one of the major benefits of living in a nursing home is this structured, scheduled life. Meals are offered only at certain times, social activities are scheduled for certain times, and there is always help regulating the schedule. This can be great for the health and well being of your aging family member.
Con: Lack of Freedom
After living full, independent lives, it's often difficult to convince a senior citizen to move into a nursing home where they may lose much of that sense of freedom that they've grown so accustomed to their entire lives. While a regimented schedule can be a benefit to their overall health, your parents may miss being able to do what they want when they want to do it. Many nursing homes offer scheduled activities where participation is encouraged, but not necessary, giving your parent their own right to choose what they would like to do. So while there is some regimented scheduling, you can rest assured that your family member will still be given the freedom to take a day off from scheduled activities if they choose, giving them at least some sense of the freedom they once had.
Pro: Active Social Life
It sometimes becomes all too easy for a senior living with their children to settle into an inactive lifestyle. At a nursing home, there are always social activities on the schedule, encouraging the participation and socialization of all residents. This gives seniors the chance to meet other residents within their same age range, keep up a more active lifestyle and become a member of the community. And the best part is that all activities are conducted under the supervision of the qualified healthcare professionals at the nursing home, meaning your parents or grandparents are able to enjoy all the benefits that a social life has to offer while still being given the best care available to them at all times.
Con: Nursing Home Horror Stories
Perhaps the reason so many people have negative views on nursing homes is that there are so many horror stories out there that we've all heard. These are the stories of nursing home neglect, abuse or other mistreatment of the people that we love so dearly. While there are some nursing homes out there that have bad reputations, use referrals from friends and community members when you're searching for a nursing home for your family member. Do your research before sending your parent or grandparent to the facility, and stay active in the care of your family member to ensure they are being cared for properly.
Should you ever have a negative experience with a nursing home, or you need to file a nursing home neglect or abuse case, remember that the Law Office of D. Hardison Wood have highly qualified North Carolina nursing home neglect attorneys available to help you protect your family members.