Do I place Mom in a nursing home or bring her home?


Mom is 85 and has been losing her balance and falling a lot over the past year. A few weeks ago, she had fallen every day during a 1 week period. The last time it happened, she had to go and have 14 sutures on her scalp. While at the hospital the doctors found that she had numerous broken ribs and compression fractures in her back. I know, you're wondering why I didn't call the ambulance every time she fell. If I'd have done that, they would have been here 50 times! I had no idea that these injuries were present because she never complained specifically about these areas. It has been about 3 weeks since Mom left the house in an ambulance and she currently resides at a local Nursing Home/ Rehabilitation center trying to get better. She has mild dementia and seems to be tired a lot of the time.When Mom was here at home, I was always on edge waiting to hear the "THUD" of her hitting the floor again. It's just her and I here at home and I'm the sole caregiver with a Durable POA for healthcare and finances. I have a full-time job during the week and it got so bad caring for her that I was getting 2 hrs. of sleep a night and my job was in jeopardy. These past few weeks, since Mom has been gone, have been a blessing. Even my boss and co-workers have remarked on the positive changes in me. I love my Mother very much and feel terribly guilty just writing these things but I feel I can't do the caregiving thing anymore. This "intense" care giving for Mom here at home has been going on for about 18 months. I was beginning to feel trapped and it got so bad at one point a few months ago that I wanted to commit suicide. Now I feel like a new man but terribly guilty about even contemplating having her be a permanent resident at the NH. What do I do? Should I take my chances and bring her back home and have "hell on earth for me (but nice for her) or should I make arrangements to have her become a permanent resident of the NH? People tell me that I am caring for my Mom by having her at the NH but I feel sooo guilty. Why? What do I do?

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Your mother's dementia may be mild now, but one thing you can count on: it will get worse. And as it does there will no longer be a choice of leaving her home alone -- not all day while you work, and eventually not even an hour while you shop for groceries. Eventually you are going to have to bring someone in while you are at work, or place her in an appropriate care center.

We all felt bad when it was necessary to place our mother in a nursing home. She had been living with my retired sister for 14 months when her progressing dementia and also mobility issues forced our hand. That was two years ago. My sisters and I are amazed at how she is not only accepting the situation but thriving. She goes to crafts. She goes to sing-alongs. She loves the live entertainment -- especially accordion players. She gets meals and snacks on a regular schedule. She has her hair done onsite every week. (It had become a real struggle to get her out of the house for anything.) If she has a rash or signs of a uti she doesn't have to get dressed for the weather and go to a doctor's office -- they come to her and take care of it immediately.

The year+ at my sister's was a good transition for my mother. (My sister and her husband did an excellent job of caring for her.) But where she is now is the right place at the right time. She gets several visits from us each week. She knows we love her. She loves her bingo!

You've given you mother a transition period from being independent to accepting care and help. Now it is time to take the next step. Keeping her at home so that you can avoid feeling guilty would really be selfish in a way. Do what is right for her. Get help coping with your feelings if you have to.

I don't know about your mother. If my mother thought one of her children was feeling suicidal taking care of her she would be devastated. That is not something any decent parent wants their child to go through. I suspect that if she really knew how much this is costing in your health and happiness she would call a taxi and leave!

Please give her want she needs, and what she would want if she fully understood the situation. Don't let your own irrational feelings get in the way of doing what is right.
Helpful Answer (5)

Good1Son, maybe you can find her the best NH that she can afford. She falls a lot, and she is likely to fall when you are at work. If she falls in the NH, someone will be there to help. It's normal to feel guilty. We all want to do what we think will make our parent happiest. Sometimes, though, they are happier in a facility where there are people around. You never know until after they have time to adjust. I would say to try a facility and see how it goes. She may take a month or so to adjust, so give it time.
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She can make new friends at NH or AL, but back home with you she will be staring at the four walls while you are at work. If you are going to feel guilty about something, feel guilty about her being trapped and bored to tears alone in your house. Do what is best for both of you.
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