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How to Talk to a Loved One About Moving to a Skilled Nursing Community

An adult child speaking to their senior parent about going to a Skilled Nursing facility.

The holidays provide many of us an opportunity to see those we love - whether virtually or in person. It’s a time to connect or reconnect with those we may not have seen in many months - or even years. During these holiday catchups, it can sometimes become clear that a loved one’s health has declined since the last time you connected. Perhaps there has been a fall or health mishap, or their mental or physical health doesn’t appear to be what it used to. 

It can be a difficult decision to determine when it may be time to broach the subject of moving a loved one into a skilled nursing community. That’s why it’s so important to have this conversation often, perhaps well before you or your loved one might think it’s necessary. This way you can gauge their wishes and wants while they are still in relatively good mental or physical health. 

However, this may not always be possible. That’s why there is no better time than the present to start discussing the future. When you connect with your loved one over the holidays, try asking a few questions to gauge and guide their thoughts on whether it may be time to look into a skilled nursing community. 

Starting the Conversation About Skilled Nursing Care

Start by gently breaking the ice with a discussion about a relative or friend who may currently be in a skilled nursing community or retirement community. Talk about what a positive experience it has been for them, and ask if your loved one has ever considered what would happen if they were in a similar situation to your relative or friend. 

If your loved one insists that now is not the time for a change, encourage them to make a decision about when they feel it would be a good time. Is there a particular stage in their health journey where they will agree it’s time to seek out more advanced care? 

For instance, if your mother says she can still manage the stairs, gently ask if the point at which she can no longer safely get up and down the stairs will be when she agrees to explore skilled nursing options. Even if your loved one won’t agree that now is the time for skilled nursing care, encourage them to look at options for when it’s time. 

Ask questions such as: 

  • When it’s time for skilled nursing care, what type of community would you like? 
  • Can we explore some options for skilled nursing care together online? 
  • Would you like to do a quick virtual tour of a nearby skilled nursing community to see what it’s like? 

Many older adults have a deep distrust of any type of senior care, especially when the words “nursing home” or “long-term care” are used. By exploring new, modern communities with them online and/or in person, you can help ease their concerns and change their conceptions of what life would be like there.  

For instance, the Dammert Care Center here at The Esquiline is nestled on over 200 acres of pristine natural beauty. Our residents receive personalized care from expert staff who are on call 24/7. Residents enjoy clean, bright surroundings, delicious meals, activities, and even continuing education classes. 

As you begin your evaluation together, your loved one is likely to be surprised at all of the care and amenities that modern skilled nursing communities offer!  

How to Assess Current and Future Care Needs

Take this opportunity to assess your loved one’s health. While some seniors may just need a little extra help, others could benefit from the 24/7 care that a skilled nursing community provides. 

When you connect with your loved one, ask questions such as: 

  • Does your loved one feel they are getting the best care possible at home?  Is your loved one able to move around comfortably and easily? Ask about their mobility, and if you are there in person, observe the ease with which they can manage everyday activities around the house. 
  • Is your loved one aware that their health needs may be changing? We all want to believe that our health will continue to be good now and in the future. Unfortunately, this is something we have only partial control over. Ask your loved one how they have been eating, and observe if they have lost weight.
  • Is your loved one’s physical or mental decline beginning to impact their daily life negatively? If your loved one routinely forgets to take medications, is consistently late with bills, or begins to neglect their appearance and hygiene, it may be time to look for outside help to manage their care. 
  • Is your loved one able to keep up with daily home maintenance tasks, or is their personal space in deep decline? A roof that has been leaking for months, dishes that go unwashed for weeks, and the presence of vermin or large stacks of items that appear to have been dropped and forgotten around the house are huge red flags. Check the pantry and refrigerator if you are in person. Is the pantry stocked? Are there several items in the fridge that have expired? 

While these types of conversations are always difficult, putting it off longer will only delay the inevitable. Delay may also pose a risk to your loved one in their current situation. Know that by broaching these topics you are doing your best to ensure the health and wellbeing of your loved one. 

Explore Skilled Nursing Care Near You

Whatever your loved one’s needs, you do not have to make this decision alone. Connect with our experts here at The Esquiline to discuss your concerns and your loved one’s care needs. To learn more, visit our skilled nursing care resource center.