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Convincing a Loved One to Go to a Nursing Home

By Marie Marley

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Virtually no one wants to either live in a nursing home or place a loved one in such a facility. However, according to Linda Breytspraak, Center on Aging Studies, University of Missouri-Kansas City, “Today, people over the age of 65 have about a one-in-four chance of spending time in a nursing home.”  

Most elderly people who have a clear and compelling need to be in a long-term care facility desperately want to remain in their own homes. They want to be in a familiar setting and be close to their family members.

Family members are often adamantly opposed to the idea as well, even when a nursing home is clearly what is needed.  It may be that a spouse previously promised to never put them in a nursing home. It could also be that a child made the same promise to a parent. In many cases, it’s even more difficult because a loved one’s objections usually make the family member(s) feel guilty about the very idea of institutionalizing them.

The decision to place a loved one can be agonizing, but caregivers need to consider the following:

  1. Long-term care placement can be the most loving choice when absolutely needed to ensure the person receives all the necessary care, is around others for social stimulation, and is in a safe environment.

  2. Their promises (if any) were made years earlier when no one could have foreseen the current conditions that are urgently requiring the kind of care that a nursing home provides.

  3. Caring for a loved one is probably seriously affecting their own physical and mental health and wellbeing. No one can be a good caregiver if they are exhausted and burned out all the time.“

I often work to convince reluctant spouses to change from being a ‘caregiver’ to being a ‘care advocate,’” says William G. Hammond, founder of the Elder and Disability law firm in Overland Park, Kansas. “They can then be vigilant to ensure their loved one is receiving appropriate treatment in the facility while preserving their own health.”


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