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Short-term home stay may produce difficult transition

Carol Bursack of Minding Our Elders

Dear Carol: My mother has been in rehab since she broke her hip at home but now she needs to be moved. The professionals, including her doctor, strongly encourage moving her to a nursing home close to me because Mom will continue to need extensive care and her condition is expected to decline.

When Mom and I discuss this, she seems sad about the idea and says she wants to go to her own home even though it's not elder friendly. I'm wondering if we should take her to her own home and get around-the-clock care for a while just to make her happy and say that we gave it a try. At least then she'd have been home between facility stays. I know that too many moves can be confusing for an older person who is fragile, but I want to make Mom as happy as she can be. I can't think straight right now. What do you advise? — ME

Dear ME: I'm sorry that you are in this predicament. It's tough to be caught between the doctor's advice and your mom's preference.

Your instincts seem to be telling you to go along with the professionals and move your mom directly to the nursing home, but you want to make your mom happy so you are wavering. That's completely normal. In the end, though, you need to consider what is best for your mom long-term.

One option, as you said, is that you could take her back to her home and hire around-the-clock care. If she could get along alone if a caregiver didn't show up for a shift, then this could work for a time.

Your note, however, implies that her home can't be a permanent situation because it's not elder friendly and your mom will inevitably need more care. Therefore, either way, I'd suggest that you investigate the nursing home near you. You also might want to compare it to others in your area to see which facility you feel best about since there can be wide differences depending on ownership. This way, even if you make the decision to take your mom back to her home, you would be better prepared for an eventual nursing home placement.

My feeling, considering what you've told me, is to side with the professionals and find the best nursing home that you can. Tell your mom that the doctor thinks that this is best, but assure her that you'll bring familiar things from home to make her room comfortable and that you'll be there to help with the transition. Reassure her as much as necessary that you'll continue to be her advocate and make certain that she receives the care that she needs.

Whichever choice you make, you'll need to stay on top of her medical and care needs to assure that your mom receives competent, compassionate care from trained caregivers. That means taking care of yourself, as well, so you can handle this important part of caregiving.