What to say when it’s time to talk about nursing homes
October 7, 2019

Q: I read your column regarding what to look for in choosing a nursing home which will be very helpful to me. My problem is I don’t know how to approach this topic with my mother. I am so worried she is going to be angry with me and not have the capacity (due to dementia) to understand there aren’t any other options at this point. She now requires more assistance than can be provided by in home services. Can you please give me some guidance?

A: No doubt you are walking in the shoes of countless other caregivers who have faced this difficult decision before you. This can be an anxiety producing life event for all involved. Clearly it can be one of the most emotional decisions any family member or caregiver will have to make.

Understandably most people want to remain in their own home. As a person ages and their functional status declines this is not always possible. Services provided in the home may meet all the person’s needs for awhile but there could come a time when 24 hour care in a skilled long term care facility is necessary. A loving, concerned individual would not want to leave their family member in an unsafe environment.

Your mother’s dementia most likely is going to be a challenge in explaining to her what the future holds for her. Try taking a positive approach and mention how lonely she appears at times and it would be nice to have other people to socialize with. Alleviate fears she may have about abandonment, assure her you would visit her frequently. Mention anything the facility has to offer that would appeal to her.

Enlist others to assist you in making this a smooth transition. Her physician, spiritual adviser, or other family members willing to talk with her could reinforce this decision. You might also find a geriatric care manager to visit your mother who has experience regarding placement of family members.

In some instances it helps to take the individual to visit the home you have chosen. Even if she is resistant, remember you are doing what is best for her.

You both may go through a tough period of adjustment but in time it will get easier.


Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.

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