How can convince dad to go to a nursing home?

10 answers | Last updated: Nov 04, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My Dad has Alzheimer's, is extremely forgetful, has lost a lot of weight because he won't eat. Argues about taking his meds, a bath, and doesn't clean up after his small dog, he misses the toilet and soils his shorts sometimes. He hasn't driven for awhile and his wife, my Mom, is in a nice nursing home that I have tried to convince him to go into and be with Mom because I feel that I am totally lacking in the ability to continue to care for him.

He lives in a senior apartment complex, and I check in by phone once or twice a day and go by every evening or at noon or both if he is having a really bad time. He has fallen several times, but insists he is okay to be alone. He says if he goes to the nursing home he has to give up his car.

I am really struggling with how to take him to the home without declaring him incompetent. I have told him it's to help him get better, not a place to go die, although it probably will be. I am angry and sad and don't know what to do. My sisters can't help, one is ill and dying with cancer and the other lives too far away to be of help.

I have no time for myself or my son and his family. Need suggestions. I have tried a cleaning service but he didn't like strangers in his place. He refuses to eat the mobile meals etc. Feeling overwhelmed!

Community Answers

Laurenk answered...


I, too, am facing the same situation in that my father needs additional care.  We recently moved him to an assisted living dementia unit.  He is not adjusting and just this past weekend he had declined so significantly that we took him to the ER.  It turned out that he was over medicated.  He is now in the hospital and we realize that the situation must play out and we now need to lean on the resources they will be providing us (i.e. social worker, discharge plan, etc.)   You asked the million dollar question because I am learning the following things through experiencing this terrible disease:

1.  In relating to a person with dementia, always remember not to fall into the trap of trying to rationalize with the person regarding complex decisions. This is counter-intuitive but I try to remember my goal is to keep him calm.  I tell myself that in these instances, I am having a relationship with a disease and not my father when things get difficult.

2.  Does your father go and visit his wife at this point?  Is it possible that he could start going to the nursing home for regular visits with his wife? This way he would establish a routine of being in that environment which might help with the eventual transition. 

3.  It is good that he doesn't drive anymore.  Why can't the car go with him to the nursing home?  It sounds like it is parked outside where he lives so why can't it be parked at the nursing home?  Just be sure he doesn't have access to the keys.  

4.  I try to remember that behavior can be driven by fear and need.  When your Dad becomes hurtful, try remembering this, "Hurt people hurt people." 

5.  Don't feel guilty.  You sound like a very caring person doing the very best they can!!  I am amazed at everything you are doing for your dad plus still working and trying to be part of your son's life. 

6.  If it helps, use the framework of "Is my father safe in his environment?"  It sounds like he is no longer safe in that you mention falling.  Once you answer this question, allow that to be your motivation as you move forward in the care for your father.  Remember, he is losing his ability to rationalize so try and avoid that pitfall.  Redirect, redirect, redirect when your father is irrational.  Continue to plant seeds like, "I'm glad mom doesn't have to worry about steps anymore.  I used to worry all the time that she would fall and that would have been a bad situation."  "You know Dad, you are so important to me and right now the most important thing is your safety and happiness."

6.  There are no easy answers.  Hang in there -- lean on the experts -- remember to take a breather for yourself -- and absolutely no blaming of yourself during this very difficult time with your father.  I have a feeling you will figure this out.


A fellow caregiver answered...

LaurenK, thanks so much for your reply, I'm sorry I haven't responded before now. I appreciate your suggestions and am trying so hard to be positive about this situation. Dad has been talking about going to the nursing home to stay. We met with the assetment lady today, things were going well until she asked Dad if he was willing to go to the nursing home. He immediately said No, so end of discussion. I wish she would have said something like, would you like to go today or next week and lead him. But she gave him a choice. I know it will be hard, but I feel like I am up against a wall. Thanks for listening!

Bostonterr05 answered...

When your dealing with someone who cannot rationalize, and is not coherent enough to take their own meds correctly, and is a danger to themselves. It is time for you to take control and go to the next step. Believe me, its one of the hardest decisions you will make. You will have to call your father's doctor, give them the heads up on the matter. Preferrable a Psychiatrist. Which I am sure he has one if he was diagnosed with Alzheimers/Dementia. Ask the doctor for an assessment. Also advise that the patient will not go willingly to the ALF or Nursing home. At that time, proven that the assessment is at a low score, they will do the baker act paperwork and put him in a hospital for 3 days. From there, the social worker can help you pick out a place. Keep in mind, if he goes to an ALF, they can not retain the patient there if the patient wishes to leave. If he goes to a nursing home, its a done deal. Legally, they can restrain the patient for mental incapacitated. This is my advise and very own experience, in Florida. Not sure if its the same in all other states. Bottom line, don't wait till it get worse, you will have regrets. Take control. Good Luck!

Antara answered...

how can i convence my dad to buy a pup and i will pay for it by my pocket money. he always go for touring hardly he stay for2 days in 1 month.

Cocoa joe answered...

It is very difficult in dealing with my parents who have dimentia in differing degrees. When to get help? My yardstick is when they become a dander to themselves or others action must be taken. Our solution albeit temporary was that once both Mom and Dad were hospitalized. The head nurse had both parents assessed. They were allowed to go home if they maintianed a care aide twice a day to ensure they took their medication and that Dad take a driving test.

In retrospect what prompted the driving issue was that Dad had been stopped by the local police. He didn't have a driver's licence, car insurance nor licence plates.

This gave me the authority I needed to have Dad tested for his driving. He failed. It was a sad day day when I took him to surrender his licence, Through some negotiation Dad gave his cars to two of my siblings. One afternoon I had both Mom and Dad out for a look at a Residential Retirement home By the time we returned my sibling had the remaining car towed.

Their home care continued until once again Mom was hospitalized. She had blacked out due to low blood sugar in the afternoon. Dad didn't know what to do. The evening care nurse relied aproblem. Upon release I started noon meal checks.

With my parents the situation is continuing to evolve. My advice would be to see yourself as accompanying them on their last journey. Remember it is their journey

A fellow caregiver answered...

Sometimes you just have to take the bull by the horns because it is for hi s safety that should be your biggest concern. It is hard when we are used to being the child - but you haveto take onthis huge responsibility to do what is best for their safety.

Anothercaregiver answered...

My mother and I visited a resident in a nursing home facility just the other day. Actually so I could get a look. It was very nice but it's still one tiny room, sometimes shared. I wouldn't want to live there, why would my mother want to go willingly? The lady we visited isn't as bad as my mother is but her children said she had to go. I can tell she's somewhat depressed. My sister and I have each other thank God but it's still wearing us out. I can't offer any adice because of how I felt when I visited. I'm asking mysself if I could put her there and the answer is no so far. Safety is a big issue though and I just don't have any answers. I wish I did.

Revmkg answered...

We are struggling with this, but much differently. Mom has lived with us since 1990, even before my kids were born. But in the last 10 years she has gotten more and more dependent, until now she is moderately impaired, maybe worse, with Alzheimers. We are working on placing her in a nursing home, but I am procrastinating because I feel so bad about placing here there, but a good friend told me this. Remind yourself that you are not giving her the best care and cannot give her the socialization she needs.
A friend who had to place her mom, because she was a wanderer, told me that her mom was upset at first, but once she acclimated she did great! In fact, when the daughter goes to visit, her mom rarely has time because she always has "something to do."
It will work out, anonymous, and your father will be the better for it. Let the system help you out and don't try to reason with him. You are responsible to your son, too. Above all, take care of your self.

Robert w bucey answered...

When the doctor says he will need 24/7 care unfortunitely he means 24/7 care. The nursing home is better for your father and better for you too. My father became so mean and combative what I did was first take him to the hospital to see if he was having a "stroke" during one of his little rages, and then move him to a nursing home for "rehabilitation." And then admit him for long term care to "moniter his medication." And no you can't rationalize with him and keep your answers short and simple.

Sad family answered...

The way I got my dad into the nursing home is I waited until he got hurt and took him to the ER by ambulance and explained to the doctor how my dad was behaving. It actually took the doctor talking to him to make him go into the home. He told dad that he wasnt able to live at home any longer alone. He needed to stay in the hospital for three days then they sent him to the nursing home for rehab. They get 100 medicare days anyway. The first 20 are free medicare pays for all of it. On the 21st day then their private insurance and medicare pay. That does leave a co-pay for you but so far I have not had to pay anything. Once the doctor admitted him to the nursing home it wasn't hard to get him to stay. He is an exit seeker and has to wear 3 alarms on him all the time. I got a call yesterday that he tried to leave the facility 3 times yesterday. It's important for yourself and for your family member to get the help that they need. It will be good for all of you involved.