Placing mother in nursing home a difficult decision


Q. My mother requires round-the-clock care, but I’m struggling with the decision to place her in a nursing home. Her money is almost gone, and I’m paying much of my salary for her home attendants. Even with aides present, she has managed to fall, hide her pills and start a fire. When her friends visit, they can’t tell there is anything wrong because they stay for only 10 minutes. They are saying that I just want to get rid of her. I don’t see any alternative but the nursing home. Please advise me.

A. The difficult decision to place your mother in a nursing home is between you, your other family members and your mother. It is not a decision for her friends who occasionally visit.

Unless there are family members or friends who are willing to watch your mother night and day, she should be in a nursing home for her own safety. Since most people work and live away from their parents, round-the-clock family care is not as possible as it once was.

Before you make a commitment, explore all of the nursing homes in your area. Find one that feels homey to you and is close enough for you and her friends to visit. If she wants her own room, make that a priority. If she is still able to participate in activities, find one that offers a variety of choices. Sample the food. If you are not satisfied, ask if you can bring food to her. Be certain to ask how health problems are handled. What do they do in emergencies? If she becomes ill, will she be able to remain in the facility? Above all, ask others for recommendations, and remember no place is perfect.

As for your mother’s so-called friends, ignore them. You can’t live your life worrying about what others think of you. Those who love you will support your difficult decision.

Q. I’ve been a widow for two years, and I’m thinking of moving into assisted living. My children, who are in their 40’s and 50’s, are against my decision to sell their childhood home because they like to be here for the holidays. I say it’s their turn to compromise. Please let me know your opinion.

A. You should be proud of raising a family that values you and their home; however, now is the time to make the best decision for you, not for your adult children. According to the website, helpguide.org, there are several questions to ask yourself before you make the final decision to move into an assisted living facility.

• Are your daily activities becoming more than you can handle without additional help? If you feel that your home is too big for one person, that it is tiring to do your grocery shopping or that you’re no longer preparing healthy meals for yourself, it is time to consider alternatives to living alone.

• Are you feeling lonely or isolated? Being alone too much can bring about depression. If you are noticing that you are no longer as active or often feel sad, it is time to seriously consider assisted living.

• Do you worry about your safety? If you are waking at night from fear that someone is breaking into your home or you live in an unsafe neighborhood, assisted living will probably present a welcome relief.

• Is the upkeep of your home becoming a drain either emotionally, physically or financially? If you answer yes to any of those questions, speak with your children about your living situation.

Life moves forward. It may be time to establish new traditions in the family. Don’t get stuck in an unfortunate situation because your children want to hold on to their past. That is unhealthy for all of you.

Nancy Ryburn holds a doctorate degree in psychology. She teaches psychology at Southeast Arkansas College and maintains a limited private practice. If you have questions pertaining to mental health, e-mail them to drnryburn@gmail.com. They will not be answered personally, but could appear in a future column. There will be no identifying information and all e-mails remain confidential.