Can one sibling out of six make the decision to place her mom in a nursing home?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 04, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have a friend who wants to know if it is possible to have her mother placed in a nursing home, there are seven children all but one would like for their mother to be in a nursings home. However the one child that does not want the mother in a home has the mother living with her. She has locked her mother in a car and a house alone, she is also sometimes locked in her room. Can the other six over rule the one?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Your description of your friend's mother being locked in the car, the house, and her room is very disturbing"”and if true, may even amount to elder abuse, which is a serious crime. You should urge your friend and her siblings to act quickly to make sure their mother is safe and sound.

In such situations, often the best and only solution comes when an outsider steps in: a doctor, a mediator, a social worker, a geriatric care manager"”anyone who can take the onus off one person who is controlling.

It's unclear why the one child has such sway over the whole matter, or most important: what the mother wants and what kind of care would best meet her needs. In a perfect world, all family members would be able to sit down and talk over the matter"”possibly with the guidance of a doctor who is familiar with the mother's condition. But it sounds as if your friend may be living in a less than perfect world"”and either attempts to do this have not worked out, or the whole idea just isn't possible, given the family dynamics.

If that's the case, encourage your friend to talk with the trained staffers at the Area Agency on Aging. You can find the nearest office at: Most offices have a confidential hotline, with staff trained to advise whether the situation may be abusive and what local resources might be best able to help.