Preparing a Parent for a Nursing Home

Is your elderly parent or other relative who lives alone experiencing difficulty with daily living activities? Although moving a loved one to a nursing home might be the best option for all concerned, the move may be challenged by the senior citizen, much to the adult children’s chagrin. In some cases, a squabble can evolve into a full-fledged family feud where siblings stop talking to one another or a parent disowns his or her offspring.

But you may be able to head off potential problems through advance planning and by adopting a sensible approach.

Taking the correct steps

Before sitting down with your loved one to discuss a move, make sure you have all the information needed to present viable alternatives. For instance, if you live far from a parent and will be proposing a move to a nursing home closer to you, be prepared to compare facilities in your parent’s area as well as your own.

Take the temperature of other family members, such as your siblings. Will they be on board with a decision to move your parent to a nursing home? If not, try to iron out your differences before you meet with your parent. Also, see if it’s viable for one sibling to assume oversight of the parent (such as the one living closest to the nursing home) or whether responsibilities will be divided.

Talk directly to your parent, but gently. Be reasonable and sensitive about the way you present the option of moving to a nursing home. Consider whether the meeting with your parent should be on a one-on-one basis or if it’s better to include other family members. Be careful: You don’t want your loved one to feel ganged up on. At the very least, designate a spokesperson — someone who’s usually not confrontational — to initiate and lead the discussion.

Acknowledge your parent’s feelings. Regardless of the way things turn out, it’s important to make it clear that you understand your parent’s point of view. Don’t simply dismiss their misgivings about leaving their current home. Show some compassion for what they are going through.

Remain resolute. Despite these allowances, you must stand firm if a loved one can no longer care for him- or herself. Continue to acknowledge their concerns, but keep the process moving forward in a sensible timeframe. Although you may be accused of “sounding like a broken record,” reiterate the dangers your parent faces if he or she doesn’t obtain the necessary assistance.

Avoiding mistakes

Conversely, avoid making common mistakes committed by people in similar situations. Don’t try to exert a level of control that makes the family dynamic seem more like a dictatorship than a democracy. Don’t take away your parent’s dignity. And don’t take their anger personally; you’re someone they can vent to, especially if you’re the one delivering the message.

Talk to the experts

Finally, don’t try to do it all on your own. Take advantage of experts in the field, including health care personnel, to guide you, as well as relying on professionals to help with financial issues. With a group effort, there’s a better chance things will go smoothly.


Sidebar: Nursing home costs

Inevitably, one of the first questions that arises when contemplating a nursing home move is, “What’s it going to cost?” As you might imagine, a nursing home stay doesn’t come cheap, but the actual out-of-pocket expense will vary, depending on several variables.

According to, the national daily average for nursing home care for a shared room in 2017 was $235, but there was a wide disparity among geographic regions. In the Southeast and Midwest, the daily average was closer to $165, while the Northeast cost was pricier, about $350 a day.

Other factors come into play, such as whether the resident has Alzheimer’s or some other debilitating illness. Make sure you read all the fine print. Your advisor can help you compare the costs before it’s time for a final decision.

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