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How do I know when to consider placing my 96-year-old mother into a care facility? And how do I find the right place?


Question: I am the caregiver to my 96-year-old mother. She goes to adult daycare most week days but on the weekends, evenings, and days she won't go, she is difficult, often very confused and can be very demanding. I have two teenage daughters; taking care of my mother is all they have ever known. My husband is somewhat helpful but I think he is tired of her and the fact that as a family we can never do anything. I just don't know when I should consider placing her in a care facility. How do I know when it is time for that? How do I find the right place?

Dr. Amy: Moving mom into a care facility might be the best decision, but do you have other options as well? Perhaps you can hire home care to give you and your family relief on the weekends or one or two evenings during the week. One way to explore your options is to write them down. It seems to me you have at least three: change nothing, move mom to care facility, or hire a home care service.

Under each option, list the advantages and disadvantages for your mother and for each member of the family, including yourself.

You can do this exercise with your husband and children, or you can do it on your own. If you need help, you could ask a wise friend or a leader in your faith community to do this with you. If you have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), you could call them for help. Many employers offer an Employee Assistance Program free of charge. EAP is designed to help employees and their family members work through these types of decisions.

The great thing about writing this down is that it can help you look at your options from the point of view of each family member—not just your mom. Then you can make a decision that works best for the whole family. Remember, this isn't about making a perfect decision. It's about making the best decision in a difficult situation.

Writing down the advantages and disadvantages is also a good way to help you understand whether it's time for mom to move to a care facility. If you would like to explore care facilities in your region, the Eldercare Locator, at, can help you search for services.  

If you would like to learn more about home care, Home Instead has an excellent guide called, "The Home Care Solution: A Guide to the Best Choices for Seniors and Those Who Care About Them."

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