Warning Signs a Senior Needs Skilled Nursing Facility

As a parent grows older, an adult child may wonder what options are available to keep their loved one safe and happy. While many people are familiar with the term nursing home, also referred to as skilled nursing facility, fewer understand what it entails and when it’s time to consider it. The same is true for in-home care or assisted living.


Added to the mix is the fact that seniors of today are known for being proud and fiercely independent. An older adult might recognize they need a helping hand, but be reluctant to admit it. That’s why waiting for a parent to ask for help, especially if the solution requires giving up their home, isn’t usually a good idea.

Sometimes the best solution is a move to a skilled nursing facility or assisted living facility with assistance around the clock. But how can you tell when a senior loved one needs help if they don’t ask for it? What can you do to objectively assess the situation?


Here are a few signs to look for when you next visit with your parent.

  • Condition of the home: Is a once tidy home looking neglected? Overflowing trash, odors, dirty dishes, and an overall lack of cleanliness may seem like small issues, but they can be a sign the senior is struggling.

  • Lack of maintenance: Are home repairs and lawn-care chores being ignored? Burned-out lightbulbs, broken handles on cabinets, and an untended yard are also red flags an older adult is having difficulties.

  • Mistakes with finances: Has the senior made mistakes with bills? Perhaps neglecting one while paying another bill twice? Are there stacks of unopened mail on the counter or left in the mailbox? Mistakes managing finances are something to be explored in detail.

  • Medication errors: Another major concern is how well your senior loved one is managing their medication schedule. Medication mistakes, such as taking too much of one medicine and not enough of another, can land a senior in the emergency room.

  • Sleep problems: Insomnia or irregular sleep patterns that cause them to sleep too much or too little can indicate a problem. This may be due to a lack of physical exercise or socialization.

  • Medical changes: Change in mobility, needing oxygen to breathe, needing injectable or IV medications, needing maintenance in colostomy, ileostomy, gastrostomy, and other tubes indwelling in body cavities, care of extensive wounds, or assistance with activities of daily living.

Another indication of a struggle might be a deterioration in your aging parent’s appearance. Some changes are subtle and easy to overlook while others might be more alarming:


Dirty or disheveled hair or body odor

  • Unexplained bruises or scratches

  • Unintentional weight loss or gain

  • Clothing that is dirty or inappropriate for the season

If the red flags outlined above can be used to describe your parent’s situation, it might be time to explore your options for assisted living or a skilled nursing facility such as Mitchell Hollingsworth.


Making an informed decision about a skilled nursing facility for a senior should be a thoughtful process.


Source: Warning Signs a Senior Needs Assisted Living (presbyterianseniorliving.org)

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