As we age, our health, needs, and capabilities all inevitably change. At some point, the question of whether a care home is necessary may arise. While this is a deeply personal, and often difficult decision to make, it is an important one. Ensure you consider all factors involved in order to prioritise the well-being and quality of life of those in need of care.
In this article, we will explore the signs that it may be time for your loved one to move into a care home, and any considerations that can help guide you in determining this.
Care homes are often perceived to be just for the elderly, but this is not the case. An individual’s need for residential or nursing care can develop at any stage in life. Ongoing health issues and lifestyle choices can result in the need for care at any age, and some people may not have the support or facilities to receive this care at home.
The evolving needs of our loved ones can be either a gradual process, or the result of a sudden health event. Here are some key signs it may be time to start considering a care home:
1. Declining health due to medical conditions. If your loved one is dealing with chronic health issues that require ongoing care, medication management, or specialised attention, it may be necessary to consider moving them to an environment where professional care is available 24/7.
2. Cognitive decline. When a person’s cognitive abilities start to decline, it may sometimes be challenging for them to live independently. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia may require a care home that offers specialist memory care in a safe and supportive environment.
3. Difficulties with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). When individuals struggle to perform simple tasks such as bathing, eating, dressing, or maintaining personal hygiene, it may be an indicator that they would benefit from the support and assistance available in a care home setting.
4. Safety concerns. Frequent falls, accidents, or incidents that could endanger the well being of your loved one or those around them may signal the need for a care home environment. This will include trained staff who can address these things quickly and more effectively than in someone’s own home.
5. Social isolation or lack of support. Loneliness and social isolation can have a detrimental effect on mental and emotional well-being. If your loved one lacks a supportive social network, or the ability to engage in community activities, a care home will provide companionship, social interaction, and a sense of belonging.
Another significant consideration when deciding if it is time for a care home is the well being of primary caregivers. Caring for a loved one, whilst rewarding, can be physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding. Signs of carer burnout include:
● Persistent stress
● A decline in their own personal health
● A strained relationship between carer and loved one
These signs should not be overlooked. Recognising the need for external support, such as residential care, can benefit both the caregiver and the individual receiving care.
The decision to move your loved one with dementia into a care home is much the same as if they had any other care needs. It may just be that some of their symptoms progress to the point that they don’t have the mental capacity or self awareness to recognise and make this decision for themself.
If you feel this time is coming, it is important to have these conversations with your loved one sooner rather than later, and put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney to support this decision with them if it should come to it. Your loved one’s needs should always be the top priority.
A care needs assessment is used to determine whether someone can safely and comfortably look after themselves in their own home, or if adaptations are needed. They can also determine whether it may be time to consider a care home.
There is no charge for a care needs assessment, and everyone is entitled to one if they believe they are struggling to manage ADLs. You can also arrange an assessment on your loved one’s behalf, although they do have to agree to the test (if they have the capacity to do so).
After your care needs assessment, a care plan will be established. This will be agreed with you/your loved one, and detail what needs are necessary as well as what can be done to meet these.
Whilst you may have your loved one’s best interests at heart, it’s important to involve them in the decision-making process as much as possible. It’s not a bad idea to start exploring care home options before a crisis occurs. This allows for a calm and thoughtful process when the time comes, without the stress of limited time and resources.
Early planning and open communication with your loved one can contribute to a smoother transition, and help address any concerns or reservations they may have.
Deciding to move a loved one into a care home is a difficult decision that involves assessing various factors, including their changing needs, the well-being of those who care for them, and finding the appropriate support.
By recognising signs, taking into account individual circumstances, and conducting thorough research, you can make a well-informed decision that prioritises the safety, comfort, and quality of life for your loved ones in need of care.
At Porthaven Care Homes, we put our residents’ needs first. Across 19 care communities, we provide specialist care for a range of complex needs, in safe and supportive environments. If you think it’s time to move your loved one into a homely care service, call or visit your local Porthaven home to find out the care and lifestyle that awaits.