Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I know a nursing home is the best move for my elderly parent, so why do I feel so guilty?

Nursing Home
Nursing Home (Photo credit: LOLren)
For most people faced with placing a parent in a nursing home, the guilt does not originate from the decision; instead, it is over the inability to personally care for the parent in their own home.  There are many excellent reasons to choose a nursing home over trying to provide in-home care, but they never seem to negate the guilt!  As children, we depended on our parents to provide care, nurturing and support until we were able t
o make it on our own so naturally we expect to return the favor when our parents need us to provide care, nurturing and support.  Do not let yourself be trapped into drawing a parallel between caring for an infant and caring for an elderly parent—they are not the same and the skills needed are usually night and day!

There are a few things you should definitely do before your parent reaches the stage of life where they may need a nursing home facility:

v  Never promise your parent(s) that you will NEVER place them in a nursing home!  At some point you will be asked by your parent(s) to make that promise!  It is a fear we all have of being placed in a nursing home away from family.
v  Have open and honest discussions with your parent(s) about the prospect of one day having to make the decision to choose a nursing home as their best care alternative.  It will not be easy, but there are some very good reasons why you should choose a nursing home and why it is the best choice for them.
v  Help your parent(s) prepare in advance for the potential of needing a nursing home.  Seek financial advice from a financial practitioner skilled in these matters, consider long-term care insurance, have your parent see their doctor for regular checkups and involve appropriate medical advisors.
v  Do your research on alternatives that may delay the move to a nursing home such as in-home care, adult day care or assisted living facilities as transitional moves.

These will help but they are not going to stop feelings of guilt!  If your parent needs a nursing home, then make the right choice, but know it will not be easy.  Your parent will most likely ask to stay with you or a sibling and the request may quickly turn to begging.  At this point, reasoning with your parent will be difficult and will produce very little progress in helping with the decision.

Here are some common considerations that may help with the guilt:

v  Choose a quality nursing home facility with excellent health care.
Crestview Court Nurse Station
Crestview Court Nurse Station (Photo credit: cantexsc)
v  Find a facility that is near family so visitations can be frequent.
v  Involve other members of the family as a support group and schedule visits
v  Create “Plan B”.  We hope we make the right decision but be prepared to move if necessary
v  Get to know the staff at the facility and participate in events as often as possible
v  Get involved with a support group that can help you cope and give advice
v  Make sure your parent has the opportunity to get closure on their former life by being involved in the decisions regarding disposition of possessions

Guilt is usually caused by doing something we believe is wrong or failing to do something we believe is right.  Be sure to involve healthcare professionals to help assure you are making the right decision and be confident in your decisions and choices.  If you have family, then do not go it alone—involve others in your decisions.  Sometimes people less emotionally attached can provide unbiased advice so don’t overlook the input of friends.  If you prepare properly you will minimize the guilty feelings and quickly overcome them!  If you would like to obtain a list of nursing homes in your area that meet your needs, please consider .

If you would like to contribute your thoughts and ideas, please leave them in our comment section. We want to hear them. Helping people care for themselves or their loved ones is what we care about. 

We look forward to reading yours.

Bob Gregory is an advocate for Seniors and is one of the founders of At, we are dedicated to helping families get the Elder Care help they need without having to provide their personal information! If you find you need a Nursing Home or other type of senior facility, please consider

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