How can we convince my uncle to enter a nursing home?

4 answers | Last updated: Nov 22, 2016
Ncdolphin61 asked...

My uncle is incompetent and needs to go to a nursing home. Hospice, the social worker, and his doctor all say he needs to go, but he refuses to agree. What can we do?


Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

So sorry that you're in this tough situation! From a legal standpoint, if your uncle has been deemed incompetent, and you are his guardian, you can decide what's best for him. This means if you feel the best place for him is in a nursing home, then this is where he should go. However, you sound conflicted about this decision. I'd speak to the social worker again to see if it's feasible for you to keep your uncle at home. I don’t know your uncle's  financial situation, but if he has the means he may be able to stay at home with 24 hour care. But keep in mind that this is expensive, especially over time. His finances may not last. There are programs in some areas of the country that help people live independently, providing day care and home care. Ask the social worker if she knows of anything in your uncle’s area. I would also consider his medical illnesses. If he's really ill (and it sounds like he is, with your mention of hospice), then home care may not be possible.

From my experience, the elderly don't want to move away from home, as going to a new place is very difficult. Something that might his transition easier is touring facilities in your areas to see which places are a good match for him. Understand that he will be angry for at least a while and this is normal. As he gets used to his new surroundings, you may see that his health is benefiting from more supervised care. Remember, his anger is really not about you placing him in a nursing home. It's about his losing his independence, which isn't your fault. Please don't feel guilty about trying to keep him safe and comfortable. You're trying your hardest in a difficult situation.


Community Answers

Sms13 answered...

I am in this exact situation with my mother. It was suggested that I fabricate a story about the house not being liveable so I may try that when we get to that point. Lying seems to have become a way of life with regards to my mother. Something she taught me not to do...


Heddon answered...

My mother has alzheimer's and dementia. Naturally it's only getting worse. In home care while I'm at work is getting to be too expensive and it's gotten to the point that I can't handle it on my own at night and weekends. I've made the decsion to move her to a nursing home this week but can't tell her what's going on because it will only make things worse. I think I'm going to tell her that she is going to see the doctor, but with the home being an hour away, it's not going to be an easy trip. I don't like lying to her and feel like I'm betraying her but I can't figure out an alternative. Her disease makes her so paranoid and suspicious I don't think it would matter what I say.


Sms13 answered...

This is truly a very difficult stage, making the decision to put them into a home. Is it possible for her to go into assisted living? I put my mother into one that accepted dementia patients and it was a such a blessing. I cannot tell you what a relief it was to know she was safe and that is what you have to concentrate of. I did have to make up a story but believe it was in her best interest. I did have in home care for my mother and one day she said she wanted to go "home". That was when I knew it was okay to have her go somewhere else. You may also want to contact the Office for the Aging or perhaps get into a support group. For those of us that truly care about our parents, this is a extremely difficult time. Please know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. My prayers are with you.