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Published November 09, 2013, 10:47 PM

Minding Our Elders: Dad resists safe housing options after surgery

DEAR CAROL: My dad is temporarily in a nursing home recovering from surgery. He’s been treated for eight weeks and should be released in two more weeks, although he’ll still need care.

By: Carol Bradley Bursack, INFORUM

DEAR CAROL: My dad is temporarily in a nursing home recovering from surgery. He’s been treated for eight weeks and should be released in two more weeks, although he’ll still need care.

Dad says he wants to go back to his apartment or live with me, but I don’t feel he’s safe on his own and my house is not suited for him. Besides, I intend to sell my house in less than a year.

I work full time and think Dad needs more care than I can give. I definitely can’t move in with him. He says no nursing home – period! What now? Sarah

DEAR SARAH: The first option that comes to mind is that you could hire an in-home care agency to fill in as many hours as you feel your dad needs while living alone. Most agencies offer services anywhere from one to 24 hours a day. If he needs a lot of care, these hours can become costly, but for many people it’s worth the money.

The second option would be assisted living with added services to help care for him in his room. Assisted living offers an opportunity to socialize, an opportunity that many elders lack. He’ll likely fight this idea for awhile because he’ll equate it with a nursing home, but I’d still look around and consider the option. Once people move into a good assisted living facility, many love it. The adjustment is the hard part.

He’ll face an adjustment period no matter where he lives after he’s discharged from his temporary nursing home care. If you feel that your dad continuing to live in his own home is simply a stopgap measure, then I’d look at assisted living facilities now. Too many moves can cause confusion and even a downturn in health for some elders. What you want for both of you is a fairly long-term solution so you won’t need to address another change in just a few months.

Good luck with the challenges coming your way with your dad. None of it will be easy. Listen to your dad’s preferences respectfully and try to address his fears. Assure him that you’ll visit often. If he simply refuses to entertain any options but living together, then you’ll have to decide on your own and hope he adjusts with time. The social worker at the nursing home may be able to help him understand that this move is for his safety.

Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be reached at carol@mindingourelders.com.

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