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When is it time for a nursing home?


Question: My mom has been living with my husband and me for six years. She is now 86 and has dementia. She was a smoker for 50 years and takes Spiriva. She takes meds for high blood pressure, cholesterol, memory loss, and bone density loss. She goes to senior center every day, and I have in-home care three days a week for a total of 15 hours. Now, my mom is wearing pads at night because she wets the bed. This may be the last straw. When I mention homes to her, she gasps, because she always thought she would live with family. My mom is gifted in one-line phrases to greet you, but has no idea who you are. So, pills in the morning, pills in the afternoon, diapers at night. When is it time for a nursing home?

Dr. Amy: Every caregiver is a unique individual unto herself and in her relationship with her family and the person she cares for. For this reason, there really are no hard and fast rules about when or whether to move your mom to a nursing home. This is a decision that needs to be made with the needs and wishes of everyone involved. Practically speaking, sometimes a facility is the best place for care if the combination of homecare and family is not enough. Many caregivers focus only on what is best for the person being cared for, and sacrifice their own health and their relations with others.

One way to help you make a decision is to ask yourself what you want to be able to say about yourself and your relationship with your mother in her final years, after your mother is gone.

This is one of life’s most difficult decisions. While only you and your family can make it, you might benefit from talking with your pastor, if you are a member of a faith community, or others who are in your situation, such as those in a caregiver’s support group.



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