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When is it the Right Time to Use a Skilled Nursing Facility?

October 02, 2013

As Hawaii’s older adult population increases, baby boomers will demand more services to meet their needs. Caregivers will also be looking for more support. St. Francis Healthcare System has been an advocate of “aging in place” by providing a range of home- and community based care, including home health and home hospice. So how does a skilled nursing facility fit within the continuum of care provided by St. Francis?

Angela Dog 024 A skilled nursing facility can be valuable for short-term stays following a hospital visit to receive proper transitional care. There may be a need for more skilled nursing around the clock to facilitate a patient’s recovery after surgery to prevent having to re-enter the hospital or make an unintended visit to the emergency room. Living a healthy, active, independent life is the goal of every older adult.

However, because of declining health, there may a point at which a skilled nursing facility can enhance the quality of life for an older adult. Here are some signs an older adult may not be flourishing on their own at home and when it may be time to explore alternative living arrangements (from the website,

  • Recent accidents or close calls. Did your loved one take a fall, have a medical scare, or get in a fender bender (or worse)? Who responded and how long did it take? Accidents do happen, but as people get older, the odds rise of them happening again.
  • A slow recovery. How did the person you’re caring for weather the most recent illness (for example, a flu or bad cold)? Was he or she able and willing to seek medical care when needed, or did last winter’s cold develop into untreated bronchitis?
  • A chronic health condition that’s worsening. Progressive problems such as COPD, dementia, and congestive heart failure can decline gradually or precipitously, but either way, their presence means your loved one will increasingly need help.
  • Increasing difficulty managing the activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). ADLs and IADLs are the skills needed to live independently — dressing, shopping, cooking, doing laundry, managing medications, and so on. Doctors, social workers, and other geriatric experts evaluate them as part of a functional assessment, which is one way to get an expert’s view of the situation. Difficulties with ADLs and IADLs can sometimes be remedied by bringing in more in-home help.

If you are caring for a loved one whose medical needs are changing, we can help.  St. Francis Healthcare System has trained professionals who can help you care for your loved one.  Our call center professionals can help you determine what kind of care might be best for your family and your elder loved one, and can help you find the services you need to provide that care.  Home care, adult day health, and adult day care options are available now, and our skilled nursing facility in Liliha will be opening soon.  Call us at (808) 547-6500 for more information.  We understand, and we want to help.

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