Q: My elder father has been set up to go to a nursing home after a surgery. Is this really necessary? My mother is freaking out!
A: When elder parents have been together for decades, an illness or surgery can split them up and the healing process stops. The comfort of being together and the compassionate care they receive from each other may be the only life line they have. While many insurance plans will insist that an elder go to a facility for extended care, it does not have to be the right answer for your family. If there is an option to have home care, if there are family members that can stay with the parents and care for them, or if there is a support system that can be developed; the requirement to go to a facility can be declined. Remember, just because the nurse comes and tells you this is the plan, you by no means have to abide by that plan. You can make your own. You may also decline to leave the facility until you have a better plan in place.
Many times, a patient can be sent home a few days later, the home can be made ready with devices to make life easier and safe, and the option to have a ‘step plan’ can be set up. If your parents have been together for 60 years and one day the doctor says one of them is going away, both of them may have declining health due to the separation. By having a step plan, the patient can go home and do the best to heal with what services can come to them. If the patient is not getting better, then there will be a period of time the other spouse may have to get used to the idea that another option has to take place now and it won’t be so sudden.
So; listen to the options, decide what works for you and what does not, take your time making sudden moves and utilize a step plan to increase distance for health help with elder parents.
Remember, think before you leap. You may take the option that is being presented because you do not know anything else or if you are afraid to be stuck doing everything. Help is available all around. You just have to ask.