Family members often wrestle with determining when it is time for an elderly person with physical or cognitive impairments to move into long-term care.  Feelings of guilt, anxiety and the difficult conversations that must take place often cause us to procrastinate.

 Last month, an elderly lady called me to inquire about moving into one of our care homes as she was aware that she could no longer care for herself.  She passed away just a few days later.  Because her health apparently declined during 2015, I can’t help but wonder if she would be alive today had she moved earlier.  I also believe her quality of life in 2015 would have been better.  In her case, it was past time.

Whether your loved one is currently living independently, with a family member, or in a senior independent living apartment, these are questions you can ask to assess whether the time for seeking long-term care has arrived:

  1. Are there concerns about your loved one living safely alone?
  2. Is your loved one incontinent?
  3. Is your loved one able to take medications on time and prepare nutritious meals?
  4. Can your loved one manage his or her personal finances?
  5. Has there been fire or other damage to the home because of not turning off water or stove burners?
  6. Is your loved one capable of moving from chair to chair, into or out of bed without assistance?
  7. Can your loved one bathe without assistance?
  8. Has your loved one fallen recently, or often?
  9. Is caring for your loved one damaging your own health?
  10. Has a medical adviser or other, objective party told you it is time?


If you honestly answered “yes” to three or more of these questions, it may be time for your loved one to move into long-term care.  While staying in his or her home with companion care is often desired by your loved one, the cost of home health can be twice or three times the cost of living in a care home if round-the-clock care is needed, and it often truly is.  Managing the attendance, illnesses and vacation needs of an in-home caregiver can be stressful and add to the burnout being experienced by family members. 

When the time has arrived, the deluge of long-term care advertising will usually claim that the assisted living or nursing facility is “just like home.”  However, cutting edge companies are creating care homes in single-family residential neighborhoods similar to where your loved one likely spent a lifetime calling “home.”  

We often admit residents to our neighborhood homes after a crisis has occurred.  In order to be prepared, families should tour homes and do their due diligence before the time has arrived or a crisis event has happened.  If you believe it may be time soon, please engage in seeking out care for your loved one, and recognize that having an option is the most loving choice, so that when it is time, you are ready with a solution.

Scott Schultz is President of ComfortCare Homes, serving the elderly with Personalized Care in Real Homes in residential neighborhoods in Baldwin City and Ottawa.  The Company has been recognized by the Chamber of Commerce in Baldwin City as Business of the Year, as well as receiving the Horizon Award, and by the Ottawa Area Chamber as Entrepreneur of the Year.  Scott can be reached at 785-594-2603. -

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