Face it now or suffer later. If the thought of having to put your mom into a nursing home isn’t a vivid picture of what you can expect happening in your own life later on, I don’t know what is.

I just spent the last 3 weeks facing that situation. My aging fiercely independent mother at the age of 88 had flatly and bluntly refused to even consider ever being “put” into a nursing home. The idea of moving near to or in with any of her children was a non-issue. She was truly convinced she could live alone and pass away in her own apartment—simple and uncomplicated.

Are you facing that same situation now, or soon? If you permit me to share a few of my experiences with you, perhaps you will be able to take some shortcuts to avoid the unbelievable mental anguish involved in the process. You see—the mental suffering is also present in yourself as much as in your parent.

Your mom may adapt to her new living conditions much faster than your mind will let you off the hook. I have to admit I thought of just “walking away” from it all.

The seven realities we face as a family:

1. How do we prepare for the nursing home reality for a parent before it becomes necessary?
2. How can we prepare our parent for the nursing home possibility?
3. What options are there to avoid moving a parent to nursing home care?
4. What can we do to reduce the nursing home abuse once a parent is there?
5. How can we reduce the commonly thought nursing home neglect?
6. How do we handle the nursing home cost?
7. How to make our parent secure and content living with nursing home care?

More issues are popping up all the time but these are the most important. One fact stands out above all. When your mom or dad is mentally clear for the most part you can’t force them to do anything they refuse to do. Obtaining Power of Attorney for the required two elements of law which enables you to over-ride your parent’s objections and control their destiny enables you to legally direct and control their situation.

Power of Attorney for Financial and Property issues.
Power of Attorney for Healthcare.

A brief summary of each of the seven realities:

1. Our preparation: As a family a decision has to be made as to who will be the single person responsible for the process—beginning to end. It has to be voluntary because anyone forced into it will fail on all levels. The nursing home information and details must be presented to the parent in an open discussion about possibilities—hopefully long before the need arises.

2. Preparation of Parent: All senior citizens understand to varying degrees what is ahead for them. A day doesn’t go bye that they don’t think about options and what they want to do if something changes. Families must listen carefully and understand the desires of their parents early on. Then reassure the parent they will follow the parent’s wishes (whether or not that may change out of unexpected necessities later).

Your parent must trust the family member who volunteers to navigate the course of action. Otherwise, when your mom’s or dad’s senses fade and the assignment of Power of Attorney becomes necessary, the parent will refuse to sign anything. That results in a serious crisis for the family, the patient, and the governmental healthcare agencies.

3. Options to nursing home care: For three years the three of us kids tried to talk mom (lived alone for over 12 years) into moving in with one of us or at least close to one of us. She refused to leave familiar surroundings, friends, and activities. As long as she had no serious physical or mental disabilities we could have taken care of her safely and still given her the independence she wanted.

She preferred to live in her HUD hosted apartment and pay for it out of her social security money. So we all sent her what she needed and supported her there.

She clearly understood that permanent disability of any kind would promptly require complete changes to her living conditions. She began falling twice a week with frequent ambulance trips to the local emergency room. She reached a point where she could not take care of herself nor ambulate safely. At that point none of her family could possibly care for her in a safe and adequate fashion on a 24/7 timeframe. A skilled nursing home was a necessity.

4. Nursing home abuse: We all know abuse of patients happens depending on who runs the facility and how it’s run. The amount of abuse depends on a patient’s attitude, a staff member’s attitude, and a bunch of other factors. Our own approach often will reduce the abuse if we are willing to make the effort.

My advice:

• Have personal face to face conversations with the staff members from the director down to the maintenance person if possible—or at least do it on the phone.
• Call members of the staff occasionally to find their opinion of your
mom’s progress.
• Arrange to have a telephone at the bedside, and TV availability.
• Leave your phone numbers with all the staff and encourage them
to call you.
• Arrange to have money, check books, and precious items put in a safe.
• Make friends with other patients residing in mom’s room.
• Communicate with your parent at least once a week if not oftener if they remain alert and aware.

Each of these is a way to reveal “problems” or abuse and indicates to the staff that you are keeping a close eye on your mom or dad and how they are treated.

5. Nursing home neglect: Do the same procedures as in number 4 and add one additional job. Contact the medical doctor in charge of your mom’s care often. No patient can be kept in any licensed nursing facility without being under the care of a physician—whether practicing inside the nursing home or in private practice outside.

6. Nursing home costs: Licensed “private run and owned” nursing homes within the USA have a monthly average cost between $3000 and $12,000 per month.

Wealth does have its advantages. Most of us rely on government healthcare licensed facilities for senior healthcare. Each has its own requirements and depends on a patient’s qualifications and social security income. Either the nursing home accepts Medicare and/or Medical type coverage to pay the whole cost, or the family must pay for the cost residual above what the government makes available.

7. Making mom content: Only family knows what makes their parents happy and content. Social Workers and Activities Directors eventually find out but that’s not good enough. Communicate everything you know about mom to those staff members about mom’s trigger points relating to contentment. Since staff members switch around, come and go, and forget—keep reminding them over and over again.

In future articles I will be getting into much more detail on each of these areas.

Word Count = 1208
Keywords = nursing home, nursing home care, nursing home abuse, nursing home neglect, nursing homes, healthcare, health care, nursing home cost, abuse in a nursing home.

Author's Bio: 

The author, Curt Graham, is a retired medical doctor who has written extensively on many topics over his 35 plus years in active medical practice. He is a published author in Modern Physician, and is recognized as an expert author on several topics by many authorities on the Internet.
Learn how to obtain better medical and health care using easy and quick strategies exposed by this insider physician. Discover tactics to get top medical care that all others will never know. Go there now!

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