One of the most difficult decisions we have to make is how to care for our parents once they are no longer capable of doing so. As you try to balance your roles and responsibilities and their needs, you may start to realize that you can’t provide all of the care your parents require in the long run.
This is usually when the idea of nursing home care comes up. You and your family may need to consider whether your loved one should be in-home nursing services or whether they are better suited for home-based health care. Additionally, you want your loved ones to be in an environment where they can live a happy life.
Nursing home care is most often the first option because they provide 24-hour medical care and full-time treatment from competent healthcare experts and talented doctors. This can provide you and your family peace of mind, knowing that your loved ones are being adequately looked for at all hours of the day. It may be terrifying to entrust a loved one’s care to a complete stranger, but if you’re thinking about using home nursing services for a family member or even yourself, you’ll want to think about a lot of things before committing to living there full-time.
1. High Transmission Rates for Infectious Diseases
Nursing home care usually accommodates senior citizens who, in addition to their age, frequently have major comorbidities that make them particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases. The average nursing home in the United States has 108 beds, and patients frequently share rooms and toilets. Among the 1.3 million persons who live in nursing homes, up to 3.8 million illnesses and 200,000 hospitalizations occur each year. Respiratory infections (such as influenza and pneumonia), gastroenteritis, and skin infections are the most frequent infections. Recently, COVID-19 infection has impacted negatively on the nursing home population, with 1 in 5 patients contracting and dying from the condition.
Nursing homes have been shown to have high rates of infectious disease transmission for a variety of reasons, including crowding, sharing of bathroom facilities, and gathering in common areas, as well as a lack of infection prevention and control awareness. Staffing shortages and frequent staff turnover, high resident-to-staff ratios, and inadequate infection prevention and control measures are well-documented in-home nursing services and this may contribute to the virus’s spread within the facility. The late detection of the cases contributed to the virus’s rapid spread and distribution among both residents and workers. Furthermore, visitors, staff, and residents come and leave on a regular basis, taking germs from both the hospital and the community with them.
The high infection and death rates among nursing home residents as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted concerns about how well nursing facilities are prepared for future outbreaks. Because of the close-quartered living conditions, a lack of personal protective equipment shared staff between homes, and poor infection control education and standards, infections can readily spread among the nursing home population. If you’re thinking about nursing home care, you might want to look at other choices.
2. Financial Challenges
Home nursing services are typically more expensive than in-home care or assisted living facilities. While some costs may be covered by private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, monthly fees may be out of reach. In the early 1990s, nursing home expansion was significant, as skilled nursing facilities were built to reflect changes in Medicare funding patterns. The nursing home business was affected by subsequent Medicare reimbursement modifications. Some people lost home health agency assistance, requiring admittance to a nursing facility. At the same time, Medicare reimbursements to nursing facilities have dropped. States, which bear the primary burden of Medicaid financing, have been attempting to contain Medicaid costs, in part by tightening controls on nursing home reimbursement rates.
Putting a senior family member in a home nursing service can cost thousands of dollars per year, and if that’s an expense your family isn’t ready to bear just yet, you can look into other choices. If one of the reasons you’re considering nursing home care is that the cost of caring for your relative is becoming too much for you to bear, a nursing home may not be the best option. If your parents live in their own home yet do not require more intensive medical care, having a caregiver come by to provide daily assistance and other services may be a better option.
3. Inadequate Care and Support
The primary challenge that nursing homes face is their ability to provide quality care to residents. Residents of nursing home care, who are already in poor health, are likely to deteriorate rapidly if they are subjected to inadequate treatment and medical care. Inappropriate treatment is caused by understaffing or inadequate staff training, and services may not have been the most efficient nor safe, and reliable for the elders who live there.
A staff shortage can definitely result in situations in which the needs of residents in a home nursing services will be unattended. In these cases, it may be essential to assure that the nursing home care of your choice is well-staffed and fulfills all of your loved one’s needs, regardless of their preferences.
4. Loneliness and Isolation
Older individuals who move from their homes to nursing home care enter a phase of life where they have less contact with family and friends. This circumstance frequently leads to a sense of isolation, as well as a decline in physical and mental health. The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic further isolated elderly people, as facilities closed their doors to visitors in order to protect residents.
Family members and friends may find it difficult to find time to see their loved ones in nursing home care, especially if visiting hours are limited. Because of the restrictions, many seniors may feel abandoned. Keeping your loved ones at home allows them to have visitors whenever they choose.
One of the benefits of nursing homes is that your elderly parents will be able to engage with and make friends with other people in their age group. However, this benefit is not always true. You may be able to request room transfers if your loved one does not get along with other residents or prefers to spend time alone.
5. Lack of Freedom
After living long, independent lives, convincing a senior citizen to enter nursing home care, where they may lose much of the sense of freedom to which they’ve become accustomed, can be challenging. While following a schedule can help your parents’ overall health, they may miss being able to do what they want when they want. Nursing homes usually offer social activities for your parents to engage in both within and outside of the facility. Residents in most nursing home care, however, have limited freedom to participate in activities of their choosing. Instead of being able to go to a museum or see a movie on their own time, they will be required to participate in the nursing home’s social activities.
Which Is the Best Option for Your Parents?
The decision between home care and nursing home services is one that only you and your family can make. Nursing homes have both advantages and disadvantages, depending on the one you choose. Nursing home care can be expensive, and some who prefer a less structured routine may not adapt well to the nursing home’s schedule. Home care allows older people to get the help they need without having to make major lifestyle changes.
Ask your doctor’s office for recommendations if you are looking for home nursing services. Personal recommendations from others who have placed a loved one in a nursing home facility are also recommended. While these factors should be considered, a decision should not be based solely on them. Once you’ve determined your options, consider the location, types of services, staff availability, quality of care, and a variety of other factors. If your loved one is still capable of making decisions, it is important that you respect their opinion and involve them in the process of deciding whether to go to a nursing home or other care setting.