The Difficult Decision to Place a Parent in a Nursing Home

You have exhausted every other option with your aging parent. Keep them in their own home and stop by regularly to help with meds, food, upkeep of the home, shopping. For a while that may work and you feel good about helping your parent and giving back when they have given so much to you during your lifetime.

As time progresses, your parents may find themselves unable to care for themselves on a daily basis. It is difficult for them to accomplish tasks and you may come to the point where you cannot trust their judgment. What if they leave the stove on? Or, wander outside and not know where they live. Worse yet, they get behind the wheel of their car when they are unable to drive responsibly.

We do not know what the future holds. It is impossible to promise your parent things like “we will never put you in a nursing home”, when we have no idea what situations will arise as they age with regard to their health and physical capabilities. It is hard not to feel guilty when you have run out of in-home care options. At this point, a tough decision may be in order. You have done the best you can and tried to honor their request. Because of modern medical advances, people live longer now than they did in the past. There comes a point in time when both their mental and physical capabilities may have deteriorated so much they cannot take care of themselves.

Having heard stories about nursing home abuse and neglect, how do you choose a nursing home you can trust to do right by your parent?

  • Research the nursing home on-line with your State’s department of health or Medicare.
  • Tour local nursing homes as far in advance as possible because the good ones will likely have a waiting list.
  • Talk to family members visiting their loved ones and ask them questions about the home. They are more apt to give honest and candid responses.
  • Observe the staff to witness how they interact with the residents. Inspect the cafeteria, the bathrooms, the common areas, any outside areas.
  • Inquire as to how to get in touch with nurses or staff with questions concerning the care of your parent
  • Are there services such as haircuts, nail care and laundry?
  • Can you put money on an account for your loved one to cover haircuts, small necessities, etc.?
  • Is there cable TV available for the resident in their room? Common area?
  • What kind of group activities does the home offer?
  • Do different religious affiliations come and offer Sunday services?
  • Is a Chaplain available?
  • Does the home offer any exercise programs or physical therapy?

Even though your parent may live in a nursing home, you can still be their caregiver. You will always be their advocate in any decision regarding their health and well-being. You can decorate their room with family pictures, a favorite pillow or blanket. Bring flowers or their favorite treat. Just visiting and letting them talk and reminisce about the ‘old days’ can be comforting to them.

There are Federal laws that regulate nursing homes. There are even tougher laws in many States. Become familiar with these regulations and confirm that the nursing home you select for your parent is not in violation of any of these regulations. Again, vigilance is important and you will always be your parent’s best advocate. If, however, the nursing home fails in its duties to your loved one, work with an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney.

Thanks to authors at Darrel Castle & Associates P.C. for their insight into Nursing Home Law.

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