When to Put an Elderly Parent in Nursing Home | Assisted Living

If wishes were horses, everyone would take care of their aging parents, and it would be a blissful experience. Unfortunately, this may not always be the case due to different reasons. Some circumstances force people to put their elderly loved ones in nursing homes. Usually, making this decision is accompanied by shame, fear, and guilt, even if it is the best thing for the family. How can you tell it is the right time to put your loved one in a nursing home? This article will explain the reasons that could push you to make this decision. Although it is a tough decision, you should do it for the safety and health of your aging parent or relative.

Your Parent Can No Longer Take Care of Themselves

If your aging parent can no longer take care [1] of themselves, it is time to put them in a home for the elderly. The home will have qualified people to facilitate assisted living. There could be several reasons why your aging parents can’t take care of themselves. Being unable to take care of oneself manifests in the following ways:

  • The older adult cannot eat, use the restroom, stand, walk, lay down, or perform other personal hygiene procedures without assistance.
  • Your loved one forgets to eat, bathe, or do other important activities and rituals.
  • Your aging parent appears forgetful and confused.
  • Your aging parent finds themselves in unsafe or dangerous situations due to their forgetfulness.

Most people would agree that putting their aging parents in a nursing home should be the last resort. This is because at-home care offers more personalized care, and one can spend more time with close family and friends. At-home care makes the elderly feel more loved and cherished. They feel more comfortable and relaxed because they are in a familiar environment. However, if your parents require professional care and cannot get it at home, it is time to move them to a nursing home. A good nursing home will ensure they get round-the-clock expert care.

Although it is a new and unfamiliar setup, elderly persons in nursing homes eventually enjoy the company of other people, especially because everyone around is their age.

Your Parent’s Safety is a Concern

The elderly are more prone to accidents due to diminished body functions and diseases that impair their cognitive and physical performance. If you notice that your aging parent is at risk of accidents or self-harm, moving them to a nursing home may be the best decision to make. Some of the situations that make the safety of your aging parents [2] a big concern are discussed below.

Increased Risk of Slips and Falls

Slips and falls are very common in homes with the elderly. Although some falls are not serious, others cause long-term complications or even fatality. There are steps that you can take to reduce the risk of falling at home, and these include:

  • Ensuring there are no cords in walkways
  • Using anti-slip rugs, mats, and runners
  • Ensuring all areas around the home are well lit
  • Removing all debris from passageways and exits
  • Installing grab bars in the shower
  • Ensuring the bathtubs and showers are made of non-slip materials or are covered in non-slip strips
  • Installing handrails in the staircases
  • Cleaning all spills immediately

If you have already done all the above and your aging parents are still at increased risk of falling, you should consider moving them to a nursing home. These homes are created to meet the needs of all older adults.

Risk of Fires

Fires are one of the main safety concerns for the elderly. There are many ways to prevent fires around the house. You should make sure the smoke detectors work, keep volatile substances away from home, inspect all fuse boxes or circuit breakers regularly, and keep cigarettes and ashtrays away from the bedroom. The elderly should also never sleep with any heating devices on or sleep with a heating pad. Other safety measures include not overloading the cords, ensuring the house is well-ventilated, and unplugging all appliances after use.

Unfortunately, the elderly may forget to take all these precautionary measures. This increases the risk of fires, especially if they live alone. If this risk bothers you, you should think about putting them in a home for the elderly.

Risk of Accidental Poisoning

Forgetfulness and confusion among the elderly can make them mix up their prescription medicines, which can be deadly. To avoid this, all medications should be stored in original containers, and all old medicines should be discarded. It is also crucial to avoid over-the-counter medications. Forgetfulness due to age or chronic conditions increases the risk of overdosing or accidentally mixing up the drugs and causing accidental poisoning.

If you notice that your aging parents are at increased risk of accidental poisoning, then it is maybe time to relocate them to a nursing home.

You Don’t Live Nearby

Although most people would wish to take care of their aging parents themselves, this is not always an option. Living far away from your parents’ home due to work, school, and other obligations may make moving home impossible. Logically speaking, quitting your job or dropping out of school to take care of an elderly parent is not wise, especially if you are catering to their medical needs. Besides, holding off your career indefinitely can be detrimental in the long-run.

Instead of quitting, you can put your aging parents in a nursing home and visit them as often as you can. To make it easier to cope with the decision, video call them daily to ensure they are okay. This also makes them feel loved and not abandoned.

Your Parent Can Benefit from Socialization

Loneliness is one of the causes of poor quality of life among the elderly. If you leave your aging parents alone all day as you go to work or school, they may experience loneliness. Having lonely elderly parents is disturbing, and moving them to a home for the elderly may be the best decision ever. In a nursing home, they will get a chance to foster and develop healthy relationships and interactions with staff members and other seniors and residents in the home. Interacting with other people will prevent senior isolation and encourage the elderly to take part in fulfilling and enriching activities. Socialization has numerous benefits [3] for seniors, including the following:

Improved Mental Health

Socialization reduces depression and improves the mental health of seniors. It also improves their emotional health.

Improves Self-Esteem and Confidence

Loneliness causes lower self-esteem and confidence. Spending time with other people, especially those whose company you enjoy, boosts confidence and self-esteem. Besides, it gives the elderly new perspectives.

Improves Quality of Life

Did you know that loneliness causes a faster functional decline in older people? Socializing is crucial for the elderly because it extends their life and improves their overall quality of life.

Lowered Blood Pressure

Lonely adults are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure. Interacting with others makes one feel more relaxed and lowers blood pressure.

Improved Immunity and Other Physical Health Benefits

Socialization reduces the risk of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases. It boosts the body’s ability to destroy or flush out toxins.

Your Own Mental and Physical Health is Suffering

Caring for elderly parents is not a walk in the park. It takes a lot of mental and physical strength. It also comes with heavy financial implications, especially if you meet their hospital bills from your pocket. Many people do not realize that taking care of a senior is a full-time job that can drain you physically, mentally, and spiritually if you do not take time off to rejuvenate. The mental anguish usually comes from watching someone you love dearly being unable to do simple things for themselves.

The reality of the matter is that you cannot take care of another person if you feel overwhelmed or incapable. Getting tired as a caregiver is not a crime, and many people feel the same way. If you feel too drained to care for your aging parents, you should free yourself of the guilt and decide to place them in a nursing home. To assist you in decision-making, you should ask yourself how you feel about yourself as a caregiver and how you feel about your elderly parents. You should also think about your life in general and the direction it is taking. Are you getting adequate sleep? Do you enjoy taking care of the older adult?

If most of the answers to these questions are negative, it is time to search for a suitable nursing home for your elderly parents. Do not sacrifice your mental and physical health to take care of your loved ones. Ignoring your own needs predisposes you to mental, emotional, and physical illnesses.


Taking care of your elderly parents is a noble task. However, this is not always possible due to various circumstances. Putting your aging parents in a nursing home is one of the most difficult decisions to make. Although it will make you feel guilty, it can improve their lives. You know it is the correct decision if you live far from them or feel mentally, physically, and emotionally drained to be a caregiver. Inability to take care of oneself and safety concerns also indicate it is time to enroll your elderly loved ones in a suitable nursing home.


  1. https://www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/signs-its-time-for-assisted-living
  2. https://www.seniorsmatter.com/safety-issues-for-the-elderly/2491957
  3. https://homecareassistance.com/blog/health-benefits-of-socialization
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