Challenges of placing a loved one in a skilled nursing facility

Published 10:46 am Monday, February 21, 2022

Nobody wants to be faced with the challenge of placing a parent or loved one in a nursing home especially if that was a promise you may have made years before that you may no longer be able to keep. 


Things happen, and care needs change as does the caregiver’s ability to provide the level of care and do the physically difficult tasks such as lifting or helping someone into or out of a bed or chair.  Facing the reality of these situations often comes with conflicted emotions like guilt, regret, and a sense of relief. Knowing and accepting what must be done while remaining sensitive to your loved one’s feelings is often a daunting challenge.

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The first question that you may have to face is, when is it time to put my parent or spouse in a nursing home? For some that’s an easy issue to address if your parent or spouse was forced into a long-term care facility due to an accident, injury or sudden, dramatically debilitating illness or event. Their conditions make it impossible or too costly to provide the 24/7 care they need at home.


But knowing when to place your loved one in a nursing home may not be an easy decision. Many seniors have chronic health conditions that impact their functional abilities slowly over time, making it more difficult to recognize the decision point when long-term caregiving in a residential facility is necessary.


It’s important to pay attention to any signs of physical, mental, or behavioral changes you notice with your loved one. This is especially true if they pose a danger to themselves or others, when they can’t function independently, or when you, as a caregiver, can no longer provide the level of day-to-day support that’s required without seriously risking your own health and well-being.


Here are some indicators to pay attention to as to when it may be time to consider a skilled facility:

  • Your loved one has fallen multiple times, resulting in a serious injury like broken bones.
  • There have been frequent trips to the emergency room.
  • A change in their ability to do basic daily activities due to cognitive or physical decline.
  • Your loved one has gotten lost or confused while away from home or wanders from home.
  • Your parent or spouse suffers from severe bladder and/or bowel incontinence.
  • Your mom, dad or spouse is becoming more and more socially withdrawn.
  • His or her physician has said it’s time for placement in a skilled care facility.
  • Caregiving is taking a major toll on your own physical or mental health.


If the issue is placing a parent in a skilled facility, if you can, it’s a good idea to get your siblings involved. Having everyone on the same page can make the process much easier, and the earlier you can make them aware of the situation and get them involved the easier it may be when a discussion with one or both of your parents takes place.


There’s a lot more to consider when facing this challenge, like dealing with guilt for having to place your parent or spouse in a facility, and the steps to making the transition from living at home to living in a skilled facility.  We’ll take up some of those issues in future articles.


Ron Kauffman is a Consultant & Expert Speaker on Issues of Aging.You may contact him by phone at

(828) 696-9799 or by email at: