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Difficult Choices:
Nursing Home / Assisted Living / Aging in Place
By Gina
Shaffer, Esq.
Making the
decision to
place an
elderly loved
one in a
nursing home is very difficult and raises
emotional and practical issues that can
seem overwhelming. Family members
often choose, instead, to make
arrangements to care for the individual
at home so that he or she does not have
to be admitted to a nursing home.
While it is extremely admirable that
anyone is willing to be a caregiver on
full time basis, there is a significant
concern for the wear and tear on the
health and wellbeing of the caregiver.
Consider the case of a daughter caring for
her mother in her own home, because her
mother cannot be left alone, while being
a full time mom to her three children.
Although her mother can afford some
paid assistance, she can only afford help
for about three hours a day and, more
concerning, she doesn't want anyone to
care for her except her daughter. In order
to care for her mother, the daughter is not
able to attend many of her children's
school and athletic events and is not able
to go out with her husband. Although
there is some truth to the suggestion that
"mom" has a better quality of life than if
she had moved to a nursing home, in
this case the daughter's quality of life
is diminished while she strives to
maintain her mother's.
What is the answer? It will not be the
same for every family. But some tips to
those who choose to care for a parent in
this situation:
Please get compensated . . . it is not
greedy and it is not abusive of your
parent's financial situation! The
daughter in the above scenario gave
up a lucrative job to be the full time
caregiver. She did not give up the
financial responsibilities that she has
to her family. If you choose this option,
it is imperative that you have a written
agreement with your parent.
Have a plan for respite care. Do not
give up family vacations or weekends
away or time out with your spouse. A
regular break from 24/7 caregiving is
essential to the caregiver!
Despite a dementia diagnosis, the
caregiver/child must continue to tell
a parent that he/she needs a break.
Caregivers find themselves in the roll
of parent and their parent becomes the
child. Sick parents may not understand
that caregivers need a break but it is
essential to be in charge!
The case of a spouse as caregiver is quite
different from that of a child caring for
a parent, although there are the same
concerns that the caregiver has regular
respite. An additional concern is that the
caregiver may not be able to adequately
provide the needed care. The case of a
petite wife caring for a 6 foot tall husband
who has physical impairments is an
accident waiting to happen. If she has
a medical issue herself, or is injured
attempting to assist or to lift her husband,
their children will have the more difficult
situation where both parents may need to
move to an assisted living facility or a
nursing home.
Regardless of your situation, be aware
of the difficulties of being a full time
caregiver. Begin the discussion before you
need to make the decision. Talk with your
family members, talk with professionals,
consider your options, and make decisions
for acceptable, affordable alternatives that
can provide good care and quality of life
for all involved.
HHT-030-01 May/June 10:harford'sheart winter08 4/20/10 11:43 PM Page 57