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Posted: June 02, 2008

Practical Caregiving

Nursing Home Decisions -- Always Difficult

Here’s an all-too-common caregiving situation:

"Your spouse or parent has a health problem requiring someone to take care of them, at least for a while. All you feel is love and compassion for them, and you want to take care of them. You love them. You remember raising children, and you think -- taking care of your ill loved one couldn’t be more difficult than raising rebellious teenagers, could it?

You go to the hospital to visit your loved one. The subject of what will become of them comes up. They are ill, and probably frightened. They don’t want to go into a nursing home; they want to get well and live their life the way they have been. That’s what you want, also.

 

You think about what can be done to help them, but there aren’t many choices. They can go home as long as someone is there 24/7. They can have therapists come to their home, but they might be able to go into a rehabilitation facility for a while, if they improve enough. They can go into a nursing home, at least for a while. But then you realize that they may never go home again.

 

You hear the options, and your stomach turns sick. What a horrible choice to have to make! Your loved one shouldn’t be in this situation. Your loved one should be home doing something they enjoy. But, they aren’t. They are in the hospital and perhaps will never recover."

 

How do you make the decision that will affect your loved one’s life so immensely?

 

Or, do you actually need to make it?

 

Is your loved one even capable of making that decision? This is the first thing you need to find out. Talk with your loved one and talk with the doctor about it. If your loved one actually can make that decision, then you can’t make it for them. If you don’t agree with what they want to do, you can talk with them about it. Try to understand why they are going to do what they say they want to do. If you still don’t agree, tell them why you don’t agree. Talk it out as two adults. Then accept it.

 

If the doctor thinks your loved one is not capable of making an intelligent decision about their future, then it’s up to you and other members in your family to step in.

 

Don’t make that decision alone or without a thorough understand of all alternatives. Talk to the doctors treating your loved one. Talk to anyone else who has an understanding about the situation your loved one is in. Investigate all the alternatives for care. It is important that you make the decision rather than letting someone else tell you what to do. You, your family and your loved one are the ones that have to live with that decision. The doctor and others whose opinion you value will tell you what they think your decision should be. But they still don’t have to live with that decision 24/7. You do.

 

If your loved one goes to a nursing home, decide when you and other family members will visit. You don’t need to go every day, unless there is a health emergency. Who will the nursing home call when there is an emergency? Who will have the final decision about their care? Who will handle the financial end of care? Ask the nursing home what their procedures are if something is missing, if the care isn’t what it should be, or if you have a complaint about an employee.

 

Another important aspect to remember is for family and friends that visit your loved one to be pleasant to everyone at the nursing home. No one should get upset and scream or yell; there are better ways to handle a situation. Acting like that will only cause the nursing home employees to not want to do anything extra for your loved one. You do want them to do extra little things to make your loved ones life better. Be nice and courteous to the staff at the home. It’s very important to do that.

 

If you think you want to bring your loved one into your home, look at the entire situation first. They may improve, but they may not. You will need people to come into your home to help take care of your loved one. It is very stressful to try to do it alone, and I don’t know of anyone who can do it that way. Remember, you will need to take breaks occasionally. You need your own time just for yourself. You need time to do something you enjoy. You need to take care of your health, both emotional and physical. Try to find out what it will be like, then be realistic. It’s very frustrating. Are you able to handle it?

 

Seeing that your loved one receives the care they need is very stressful, still fulfilling. They do need you to make sure they get the best care possible, but remember that does not mean you need to put them into a nursing home or to do it yourself. Good care is possible either way. In the end, giving them the best care possible is what’s important, not where they are or who is taking care of them.

© 2008 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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Please send me your questions, comments and issues regarding the practical side of caregiving at ASKJEAN@caregivershome.com, and remember to take advantage of our professionals and experts in the Ask an Expert section of our website. You'll find it in the left column on our homepage.

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