The Tough Decision to Put Dad In A Nursing Home

My head and heart have been filled with negative thoughts related to my father’s recent move to a skilled nursing home. I’m trying to use my own advice from past articles to find the positive in the current situation.

It’s tough to witness a loved one who was so strong and thriving. My dad, whom I admire so much and care for has Parkinson’s disease and dementia. They have done a number on his body and mind. I do not have to share those details with this Parkinson’s community. You already know this part of the story.

It’s in the sharing of our stories though that we help, heal and support each other .

Planning for long-term care

Dad was diagnosed at 72 with Parkinson’s and living independently until this summer at 87.  This did include day time care for about a year at my parent’s senior community home.

It was in early June that he suffered a urinary tract infection that put him in the hospital.  He was referred to rehabilitation and so fortunately Dad was able to go to the health care facility at the same senior community where my parents already had an independent home.

Dad lasted about 3 weeks in rehab. This was a good time for my mom, my brother, and I to review options that we had for Dad’s long-term care. It would probably mean 24-hour care at home or going into the skilled nursing facility on site of their senior community.

Skilled nursing care

My father had been experiencing more cognitive decline over the last few years more so than physically. He could still walk okay until he went into the hospital.

It was a difficult decision but with the recommendation of the rehab team, it was determined that the skilled nursing care would be the best option for my father.

As my brother expressed, we have "2 ships" meaning Mom and Dad. He said, "1 or both can go down anytime with both at home."

Dad is safe

Now that it has been 2 months since my father has been in the skilled nursing facility, my mother is able to sleep better and have the freedom to come and go without feeling guilty about leaving Dad.

My mother comes most evenings to help feed Dad and to spend time with him. She would say that she does miss him, but he also is only 2 blocks from her home so she can visit him anytime. Nursing facilities are not perfect but we do feel Dad is safe and well taken care of.

He isn’t the same person that he once was. He does still recognize us. He has started under hospice care so he can get the optimal amount of attention as he lives his remaining days in a facility.

Finding blessings

I do not think we would have chosen differently but this is also a very personal choice on how you want to live your days at the end of life. Certainly questions we should all ask ourselves.

In the mean time, I visit Dad when I can, taking him outside in the court yard so he can feel the sunshine and take photos like he always used to. This time, it’s me taking photos on my phone.

It’s not easy, but I still have him until the Lord takes him. I focus on the wonderful times of traveling with my parents, eating raspberries in dad’s garden, and especially making cookies. How sweet it is!

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