The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home can be a heart-wrenching one in light of 1 Timothy 5:8 (AMP) which charges believers to care for their relatives.

The realization that your elderly parents can no longer safely care for themselves can often take you by surprise. While at one time they were able to easily prepare a grand holiday meal, they now have considerable difficulty making toast without it becoming a fire hazard.

Some children prefer to care for their loved ones themselves. Before deciding whether or not you or a Home Health Care Agency should be the primary caregiver, take the following points into consideration.

You may think that it's harsh to place a price tag on a parent, but money often turns out to be the deciding factor. Will you need to remodel your home so that it will be safe for your elderly parents? If so, how much will this cost?

Would a nursing home or an assisted living facility be more cost-effective? Research the costs and compare. While one may put a strain on your wallet, the other may strain your family relationships and health.

Type of Care Needed
If your parents have been diagnosed with ailments that require careful monitoring, medication, and a full-time presence for safety, personal care, and hygiene, then the care provided in a nursing home or by a live-in companion would be the best option for them.

Do your parents require round-the-clock care? Are you able to stay at home with them full-time? Can you afford a full-time nurse?

There are different types of at-home nurses to consider, such as chore workers, personal care workers, live-in workers, home health aides and certified nurse's assistants or nurse's aides, which are supervised by a health care agency.

Medicare may pay for Home Health Care Agency services if they are ordered by a physician. Medicare and Medicaid coverage is different in each state. Contact your local Social Security office, the Department of Welfare or the Department of Health to get more information.

As the parent-child roles reverse, you will need to help your loved ones dress, maintain good personal hygiene, and develop healthy eating and exercise regimens. The caregiver must understand the difficulties elderly people often have with verbal communication.

Memory loss, an inability to concentrate or poor hearing, coupled with years of independent thinking and self-sufficiency, may present a challenge—your parents may not understand why you are telling them to do something. As a result, resentment may build between you. Since your loved ones cannot change, it's up to you to change the way you communicate.

Other options for caring for an elderly parent include:
  • Adult day services: A facility where your parent can receive limited care during the day such as socialization, recreation, and meals.
  • Hospice care: Reserved for those with a life expectancy of six months or less; provides at-home health care, pain management, and social services.
  • Assisted living: This option is available for elderly people who are able to live alone and only need help with various tasks such as shopping, laundry, cooking and running errands.
The decision to place loved ones in a nursing home should be a decision that includes your siblings, spouse, children, and most importantly, your parents. Do not allow pressure to force you into making a decision that you will regret later on.

As you research your options, trust that God will lead you every step of the way and show you what is best for everyone involved.

First published in the May 2003 issue of
Changing Your World Magazine
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