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Keeping your relatives out of nursing homes

  • 22-10-2020 7:10pm
    Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 2,980 ✭✭✭

    My parents are luckily (and due to their own great efforts) in extremely good health, but with all the horrific sh!t going on in nursing homes at the moment I'm interested in ensuring that they never have to go into one.

    My spouse's grandparent is in one, and their final months have been agonising. Now an unrecognisable, starved and battered shell of a human, while they might have fought off the infections and cancers which are now (thankfully, in many ways) getting to their final stages, I wonder would they be bothered fighting, given the fact that they're not independent enough to live at home and would just be returning to the tedium of the nursing home with occasional (seldom, now) visits. They're 86 and have been in and out of hospital and care for two years, having taken up residence in the home only at the start of this year. Their deterioration has been absolutely lightning fast.

    My own remaining grandparent is cared for in the home by their children, who take it in turns. In the past five years there has been much more care required. They are 96 and have overcome every infection and health issue suffered to date. They have a touch of incredibly profound Alzheimers but they are undeniably and visibly very happy during periods of every single day, and their quality of life is actually enviable enough considering they're nearly a century on the go.

    My partner maintains that there was nothing they could do but put the grandparent in a nursing home, and I'm not going to contradict them. I understand the huge sacrifices it would have been necessary for members of the family to make in order to facilitate the care that would have been required at home and it's a lot to ask. But I don't accept that it was the only option.

    I'm already caring for a special needs relative for two decades so I understand about the sacrifices of time and money required when you take on that responsibility. Does anyone have insight about caring for elderly relatives? I know several posters are actually caring for parents in their homes, are there any stories you can share about the challenges and hardships you faced? Are you happy with your choice?

    Or maybe you're ferociously pro-nursing home, in which case - please tell me why.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,394 ✭✭✭NSAman

    My family looked after every need for our dad for 18 years after a stroke.

    We each took turns, washing him, feeding him, shaving him, cleaning him and changing him and of course turning him to avoid bedsores.

    Yes it is a HUGE amount of work, BUT for us all, it was a chance to pay him back for raising us. 18 years of extra time we had with our dad. He succumbed to pneumonia after terrible treatment in his only hospital visit. Honestly, our parents were fantastic, my mam still is. We promised them both and still keep this promise today, not to put them in a nursing home.

    However, not everyone can do what we as a family did. I understand this it is a massive commitment in energy, time and love. Hospitals give terrible care to the elderly, nursing homes too will never give the care that a family can give.

    If you do decide to go the Nursing home route, look out for tell-tale signs of neglect and abuse. Older people will depend,on you to speak up on their behalf and do NOT take no for an answer.

  • Registered Users Posts: 350 ✭✭Taiga

    Ok, very helpful.

  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 2,980 ✭✭✭s1ippy

    That story gives me huge optimism because I have several kind family members who I know I could rely on should we collectively agree (which I suspect we will) that this is the best course of action.

    My own grandparent's care is only possible because of two siblings in particular and they're supported in a huge way by the rest of the family with ample respite and breaks. It's so important to be able to look forward to those periods where you can switch off as well.

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    Wonders what cultural change will occur as a result of COVID? Back to extended families? Alternatives to nursing homes? Use advancing technology to introduce alternatives?

  • Registered Users Posts: 793 ✭✭✭supermouse

    What a timely post for me to stumble upon. This thought hasn't left my mind over the last few months.

    I am an only child with one parent who has many health issues, the other isn't far behind. They're getting on in age, one is very unwell. Typically my extended family has always kept our elderly at home and looked after them. Most other families in my extended family have 5+ siblings, so there are many people to help share the load. My aunt is in a home and isn't being treated very well, which adds to the ''homes are awful places'' mentality my folks have. I recently returned from overseas and there the homes are like retirement villages where people are treated like respected, unique humans. They have a wide range of activities, wonderful care by the home staff and medical professionals, beautiful grounds. It's not cheap, but it's worth every cent.

    I am in full support of keeping parents home and looking after them as my parents have done so much for me over the years I want to return the care, love and support. I want them to live out their days with pride, freedom and dignity, and a great network of care (including healthcare professionals)

    But, to keep them at home means the buck stops with me. I actually don't know what I am going to do. It petrifies me. It's such a massive role for an only child (36yo, single no kids yet although am looking into sperm donor).

    My life will be on hold in the very near future and will be until they pass.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 32,634 ✭✭✭✭Graces7

    As an octgenarian with no family... I dread having to enter an institution, and applaud all who are caring for family at home as they cared for them..