“Let’s face it, no one wants to place their loved one with Alzheimer’s in a nursing facility. But sometimes that’s the best (or only) alternative, especially for those in the late-stages of the disease.”
The Huffington Post’s recent article, “How to Convince a Loved One With Alzheimer’s to Move to a Nursing Home,” advises us that it can take a large team to care for people in these stages—like medical staff on call 24/7, as well as aides, social workers, professionals, and help around the home. They also require social stimulation and 24/7 supervision in a safe, secure environment. Providing for all of these needs is a full-time job.
The primary caregiver must often work full-time and is unable to provide adequate care. People with Alzheimer’s—and many frail, elderly people without it—who clearly need to be in a long-term care facility, typically want to remain in their own homes. They often don’t realize that their condition is such that nursing home placement would be the best option for them. Some family members will also be adamantly opposed to the idea. In many instances, it’s tough because the patient vehemently objects, which make family members feel guilty.
It’s agonizing, but caregivers need to think about the fact that long-term care placement can be the most loving option. Caring for him or her at home is probably having a serious effect on their own health and well-being. A caregiver should think of themselves as a “care advocate.” A care advocate can be vigilant to ensure that their loved one is getting the appropriate treatment and care in the facility, while preserving their own physical and mental health.
Many Alzheimer’s patients will just refuse to go. It is, therefore, necessary to try to convince them that it’s best for their own health and well-being. Another option is asking another family member or even the person’s physician or attorney to talk with them. Sometimes those with Alzheimer’s pay more attention to the advice of a person other than their primary caregiver. The services of a geriatric care manager can also help with this process.
Another approach is “compassionate deception,” where you tell the person to go for a week, stretch it out to two weeks, then three weeks and eventually they adjust to being there full time. Those patients who are significantly impaired may even forget they were supposed to go back home or may not be aware they aren’t at home.
If these don’t work, and you have power of attorney, you may have to ask for help from a social worker or law enforcement. However, this should only be done as a last resort, when there is concern that the person may become a danger to him or herself or others. The person is usually taken to a hospital geriatric psychiatry unit for evaluation and treatment. He or she may then be released to a nursing home.
Finally, if you don’t have power of attorney, you may need to go to court to be appointed the person’s guardian or conservator. This will allow you to make decisions for them about where they will live. Use the services of a local elder law attorney, who will be able to guide you through this difficult process.
Reference: Huffington Post (February 3, 2017) “How to Convince a Loved One With Alzheimer’s to Move to a Nursing Home”