Family Battles: To Nursing Home or Not to Nursing Home?

Dear Ms. Allison: My family is in a daily battle over my dad’s care. He has Alzheimer’s with anxiety, high blood pressure, and diabetes. He wanders and can’t tell if it’s daytime or nighttime. He also won’t eat properly, falls often and is twice Mom’s size. My mother gives constant attention on him but cannot sit down for 15 minutes before he’s up to something. Off she goes to chase him down, calm him, distract him, try to get him to let her take his blood sugar or blood pressure, eat the right foods, and so much more. Mom has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, is exhausted, and sleep deprived. She might be depressed too – she cries easily and rarely laughs. We think Dad should go to a nursing home so she can rest and take care of her own health but she rather violently opposes the idea. She refuses to let anyone help her except the EMTs who come when he falls. She won’t allow us to help because she thinks we don’t love him due to the nursing home idea. What can a mediator advise for this situation? Lilibeth in Eastern Oklahoma.

Dear Lilibeth:
A mediator would need a lot more information to resolve the dispute. Maybe a nursing home is not the only option. Maybe you (and whoever “we” is) and Mom could look at other resources. How is the home equipped to support him and her? What are the risks to them both if one thing or another is done? So many things to consider… and other professionals may need to be involved.

That is one reason that Elder Care Mediation is a good idea for families in such situations. In mediation, the mediator takes no one’s side, but hears everyone out completely. If Dad is able to state his wishes, he is included in decisions. If not, he is included as he is able to participate. Everything is done upfront. Everyone’s rights are respected. Your parents are not told what to do. Instead, goals for their best interest are negotiated with their agreement.

Once goals are established it becomes easier for the mediator to generate options to achieve them. The mediator keeps everyone focused on the goals so the conversation doesn’t get off into areas that don’t help meet those goals. Care options and support resources available in your area and their costs are explored, as well as risks and rewards. Once options are chosen, assignments are made for participants to secure them. Plans are made to monitor outcomes and assure satisfaction. When negotiations conclude, a written agreement to the shared solution is signed by all parties.

Elder Care Mediation takes longer than other mediations for several reasons. All those involved in the situation are interviewed privately by the mediator, then all brought together to resolve the situation in a mutually agreeable way. Elders and caregivers need accommodation to understand the conditions and proceedings. They often cannot sit for long hours to resolve things. Medical and functional conditions may need to be addressed and require timely treatment. A certified Elder Care Mediator is skilled at taking all situations into account and managing the time sensitively and productively to create peace in the family.

I hope this helps. Please do contact me if I can be of assistance toward your peaceful family solutions.

To your success, Gale Allison, Mediator

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