Placing a Parent in a Nursing Home

When I started as a chaplain I was very impressed with the facility I worked in. It was so clean you could eat off the floor. I conducted a religious service and I noticed a married couple who always attended my services. One of them was a patient  at the facility. This elderly gentleman had Alzheimer’s and had been there for several years. His wife visited him every day.These people were Catholic and I thought it was rather strange that they attended a Jewish religious service. They explained to me that they could use every prayer they could.  One day I saw them sitting in the garden. I commented on how beautiful the facility was and what great care the patients received. The wife leaned to me and whispered in my ear that had she not come every day she feared that her husband would be abused   and neglected. I was shocked but the incident only underscored how out of touch I was with reality.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Placing a parent in a nursing home can be a very painful decision. It sometimes can be unavoidable for a variety of reasons. Having been a chaplain at two different nursing homes I can report that appearances can be deceiving. Your goal must be to keep your parent safe. Very often, when children who are adults need to use this option they unintentionally blind themselves to very real dangers that a parent might face. One danger is neglect and the other is abuse.

The first rule of thumb is to visit as often as possible. The more visitors a patient gets, the better the care is. Patients with no visitors typically receive the worst care and the facility becomes nothing more than a dumping ground for an unwanted burden. Remember, your parents were there for you. They nourished you, cared for you and put a roof over your head. You have a religious and moral obligation to be there for there for them. Your situation is different. You might have moved far away. You might have obligations to a spouse and children. No matter what your situation is, our Holy Torah demands that you give your parents the best care you can.

When it comes to visiting your parent don’t be predicable. Make an attempt to see the night staff in action. See how they interact with the patients. When you see your parent, check for bed sores. Bed sores are a certain sign of neglect. Obviously, if you do find bed sores or any other suspicious marks you need to move your parents to a better place. Don’t make any complaint until this is done.