When to Leave a Nursing Home and Move Back Home

When to Leave a Nursing Home and Move Back HomeLeaving a nursing home to return home is a goal for many residents and their families, but it requires careful consideration. While returning home is a good move for some, it won't work for everyone.

A nursing home stay does not have to be permanent. Many residents enter a facility temporarily to recover from an illness or accident and are able to easily transition back to living at home. For residents who continue to need care but would rather be at home, moving out of a nursing home is more complicated. 

Before considering moving out of a nursing home, here are some questions to bear in mind:

  • Can you receive the care you need at home? Some patients require help with eating, dressing, and going to the bathroom. You need to consider whether you can adequately get that care at home. 
  • Who will be providing the care? The care can come from family members or hiring in-home health care. If family members aren’t available, is there money to hire help? All 50 states have Medicaid programs that offer at least some home care. You will need to check with your state to see if you qualify.  
  • Will you be able to take the medications you need at home? 
  • How is your physical and emotional stamina? Moving back home requires determination and an ability to manage problems, since not everything will be taken care of as in a facility. 
  • Is the house set up to safely accommodate you? Are there a lot of stairs? Does the bathroom have rails? If the patient has dementia, there may be other considerations to take into account. 
  • Is there transportation available to get to doctor’s or other appointments? 

If you determine that moving back home is the best option, then you can begin to craft a plan based on where you will live and who will provide care. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to get help finding and coordinating services. 

There is a federal program called Money Follows the Person that is designed to make it easier for nursing home residents who qualify for Medicaid to move out. Currently, 34 states and the District of Columbia participate in the program, which provides personal and financial support to help eligible nursing home residents live on their own or in group settings.

For tips on transitioning from a nursing home to the community, click here.