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When Should I Suggest a Nursing Facility for a Loved One?

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When Should I Suggest a Nursing Facility for a Loved One?

According to a report from Families Caring for an Aging America, at least 17.7 million people in the United States are helping take care of an older adult with health needs. Aging, though a beautiful privilege, increases the odds of declining physical or cognitive health and affects our ability to function as independent individuals. The report also notes that between the ages of 85 and 89 years, more than half of older adults, about 58.8 percent, require a family member’s assistance due to health or functional issues. About three-fourths of those age 90 and older, around 74 percent, need help from others.

Some of us may need help sooner because of an accident or illness, but how do family members know when their loved one has reached the stage of life where additional help or a facility is needed? Obvious signs like a debilitating health condition such as stroke or dementia are easier to connect to putting your loved one in a facility. A traumatic accident like a vehicle crash can also render an individual incapable of independent, self-care, but what about the subtle signs that are easier for us to brush to the side as time goes on? The Mayo Clinic suggests these signs to look out for:


Ability to manage self care

Poor hygiene, sloppy dress and disheveled appearances are all common signs of decline. Another sign of decline is the upkeep of the home. Are bills being paid? Are lightbulbs working or being changed? Are things clean and put away? When was the last time they went to the grocery store? Any changes to personal care or upkeep of the household are good indicators of the state of their health.


Significant Memory Loss

The occasional misplaced keys or forgotten thought as they enter a room is usually not a cause for concern. After all, as we age, we tend to lose some memory. Memory loss, however, is a much bigger issue. Signs of memory loss include:

  • Asking the same questions over and over.

  • Getting lost in familiar places.

  • Being unable to follow instructions.

  • Being confused about location, time and well-known people (Levine, 2020).

In addition to memory loss, are they able to read and remember their medication guidelines? Be on the lookout for worrisome incidents like missed medication doses, falls, dropped glasses and dishes or anything that might seem out of the ordinary.



Is your elderly loved one safe in their home? Checking for hazards such as clutter, exposed cords or even staircases is essentially to determine the safety of your loved ones home. If your loved one is unable to climb stairs or seems in danger of falling, these are red flags. Is your loved one capable of driving safely without stress, with good vision and following the rules of the road?


Social Life and Activity

Social engagement is one of the primary markers of good physical and mental health. Everyone gets sad, and the elderly often have a lot to be sad about, with the loss of friends and family and the everyday challenges of growing older. But clinical depression is not a natural product of aging, as some people believe. Check in on your loved one to see if they are staying as active as possible, connecting with friends, maintaining hobbies and participating in the activities they enjoy. If you notice a change in mood that lasts longer than you might consider normal, it could indicate clinical depression or another illness. If your loved one has lost interest in being socially active, that is another red flag (Levine, 2020).

If your loved one needs more help than you can provide, that may be a sign that it is time to suggest a different level of care. The Legacy Living & Rehabilitation Center in Gillette, Wyoming is designed to create a sense of community for those who live there. Our team of dedicated care professionals has a passion for long term care and is focused on the individual needs and unique personalities of each resident. The care team consists of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants, working under the supervision of the Director of Nursing. For more information, please reach out to us at 307-688-7000 or visit our website.



Levine, D. (2020, November 17). Identifying the Right Time for Senior Care. US News.

Long Term Care in Gillette, WY | Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care. (n.d.). Campbell County Health. Retrieved September 9, 2022, from

Signs Your Parent May Need Assisted Living. (2017, January 17). Elder Care Alliance.

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