IS A NURSING HOME THE ONLY OPTION FOR MY ELDERLY PARENT?


A few years ago I received a call to assist a family whose parent was in a nursing home and we were asked if we could provide companionship as well as transportation for small outings for their parent. This came at the recommendation of the nursing home their parent was in. We were told that the parent was high functioning, but had come to live there because he had several falls while living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). He had been deemed only appropriate to live in a nursing home.

The oxymoron is that the reason people seek out a CCRC is to be sure that their loved one can be cared for until end of life and they pay a lot of money sometimes upwards of six figures just to move in. But instead, this CCRC stated the parent could no longer live there and that the family had to seek out a nursing home separate from them for the parent to live. That happened in November and the parent was still using a walker to get around. By the time we were introduced to the family in April of that following year, their parent was no longer ambulatory and the nursing home placed an alarm on their parent’s bed and wheelchair to alert staff anytime the parent tried to get up, thus making their parent wheelchair bound. For many families this is an all too common occurrence.

As we began services with the client we ran into many roadblocks from the nursing home, who in fact had recommended us, to be able to get our client out. Even taking them for a stroll in their chair outside was not possible as the nursing home said they did not feel comfortable with the client going out because it was unsafe for them to be wheeled around outside. It was hard to see such a vibrant individual being kept in a nursing home at such a high cost with very little interaction and appropriate engagement.

We began our talks with the family and planted the seed about looking for an assisted living Community that would meet their parent’s needs socially, medically and financially. At first my client’s family was both nervous and excited at the prospect that there would be another place their parent could live and continue to thrive. They had been sold a bill of goods!

Our hunt began and we narrowed it down to 3 communities that offered all the care and socialization that would benefit their parent. We toured the communities and the family was thrilled to find one that was close to them, could take care of their parents needs and saved them $5,000.00 a month over what they were paying at the nursing home. We still stay in touch with this family all these years later, the share with us how it was the best decision they ever made and how their parent is still actively participating in every activity they can in the community “that it is hard to keep him down”!

Next time someone says a nursing home is the only option for and elderly person, don’t throw in the towel and accept that. As you can see there are many communities out there that we can help a family to find that meet the needs of their loved one on all levels and be far more affordable than a nursing home.

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