Many elderly people are able to take care of themselves and their households for the duration of their lives, and others require only minor assistance that can be provided by programs such as adult day care. However, if you have a debilitating physical or emotional condition, you might require the kind of care that family or professional home care services can't provide. You may need the 24-hour attention that is available in a nursing home. Although the decision to place yourself or a loved one in a nursing home can be unpleasant, it's important to start planning early. Since many of the best homes have extensive waiting list, early planing prevents you from being forced to make a rushed or less than ideal decision. One of the best reasons for admission into a nursing home is that you're no longer safe at home and have become a risk to your self or others. Mental conditions associated with aging such as Alzheimer's (ALLZ-hy-merz) can contribute to a number of serious situations, including getting lost, having an automobile accident, or starting a fire. Additionally, physical maladies such as heart disease may be so severe that adequate treatment requires the skills of a trained professional. In these cases, where the risks outweigh other factors, it's best for all parties concerned to consider a nursing facility. For more information on when a nursing home becomes necessary, contact your physician.