Can I force Dad to go into a nursing home?

4 answers | Last updated: Oct 22, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Can I make my father go into a nursing home if he doesn't want to go and he is mentally okay and I have no power of attorney.

Expert Answers

Carolyn Rosenblatt, R.N. and Attorney is the author of author of The Boomer's Guide to Aging Parents. She has over 40 years of combined experience in her two professions. As a nurse, she has extensive experience with geriatrics, chronic illness, pain management, dementias, disability, family dynamics, and death and dying. As a trial attorney, she advocated for for the rights of injured individuals and neglected elders. She is also co-founder of

The question about whether you can force your parent to move to a nursing home if he doesn't want to go can get complicated. If you have no power of attorney, and he is not mentally incapacitated, you can't force him. If he is a danger to himself or others, there may be some exceptions. Sometimes the county's adult protective services, part of the social services in the county where you live can get involved if the danger is reported. However, if he is mentally clear, he doesn't have to let the social worker or investigator in the door. The best route to take may be to consult with his physician. Again, your parent can refuse medical care. If there is trust with any physician who has treated your parent, I would try making contact with the doctor, either in person or in writing, and spell out all your concerns. The physician may be able to persuade your parent to make the move. However, the law does not allow us to force anyone into a nursing home unless the person is a danger to himself, as determined by a physician, or a danger to others. If the doctor says he is a danger to himself, the doctor can sign the necessary paperwork to support the case for a guardianship. Guardianship is an expensive last resort and should only be considered if no other option exists. A guardian may have complete control over the elder and can decide where he will live, and can force him to live wherever the guardian decides is best.

Community Answers

Hopeternal answered...

I live in Australia and my mother and brothers are in Canada. I have spoken to my mother on the phone shes seems normal to me, her hearing bad but thats all I can tell, yet one brother has tried to put her away took her to a home and dump her off only for my younger brother to arrive and take her back home,some how I think they have some legal rights too. It all seems wrong two for her to go in One not two not including me, where do her rights come in. Now she is told to go to a mental health person and pay five hundred dollors for an assesment by a lawyer.

Dsand answered...

I'm not sure why you would be thinking about a nursing home for your dad, If he is "mentally okay" . Does he have some serious health issues that indicate the need for some kind of assisted living?

To the other poster: it is very hard to know what is best for a parent if you are hundreds of miles away from them and haven't spent a length of quality time with them for a while. Things can change drastically for the elderly, and very quickly. it sounds like your brother may have experienced some things with your mother that frightened him and made him believe that she couldn't safely live on her own. Unless your brother has some serious issues himself...NO ONE wants to dump a parent off at a nursing home, for no good reason.

Ktzman answered...

To original question, no you can't force anyone into a nursing home. Perhaps you're stressed out from taking care of him, checking in on him, or whatever. Maybe you need to arrange for others to help you with caring for him--tbis website has lots of info. Good luck with your dad.