Updated: Oct 6
By Pati Bedwell, Elder Care Coordinator
“I’m thinking of moving mom (or dad) back home.”
We’ve been hearing this a lot lately from clients now that COVID is (mostly) in the rear-view mirror.
Before you make any rash moves, take time to think it through. Those issues, however, may pale in comparison to the most important question of all: Why are you considering this?
As an elder care coordinator (and in my experience as a caregiver to my own elderly parents), I see a variety of “whys.” Here are a few of the most common.
Let’s say that your mom spent the pandemic locked down in an assisted living facility. You were the primary caregiver before she moved to assisted living. Your only sibling, who lives two time zones away, is saying, “This COVID lockdown thing was terrible for Mom, and we should move her back in with you. You have the room. It won’t be that bad. I’ll come every month to give you a break.” It’s easy for out-of-town relatives to suggest this because it has no impact on their day-to-day life. However, it will impact your life. Be prepare to give up a LOT of time. And just when you’ve established a daily routine with mom, your sibling comes in and does things differently and you’re back to square one.
From personal experience, I can tell you, guilt is the number one reason families bring people home from facilities where they’re probably getting the care they most likely need. We’re taught from a young age to honor our parents, to take care of them in their old age, and do right by them. With that message running on repeat, it can be hard to believe that the best thing for an elderly parent might be to live in a facility where they have eyes on them most of the time and where they’re able to get medical assistance more readily than they can at home.
The “why” for some people involves the amount of personal attention the parent is (or isn’t) receiving at a long-term care facility. Sometimes what you expect doesn’t match what the facility can deliver, and you might start thinking that your parent would be better off at home. In fact, that’s what I would like for my father who is in a nursing home right now. It’s not because I think that the nursing home isn’t doing a good job. I just think he would be happier if he were at home with one-on-one attention. Will I bring him home? I haven’t decided yet.
Long-term care in facilities can be expensive, often $100,000 or more every year. The desire to avoid that financial burden is another potential “why.” If your sibling thinks it would be less expensive to have mom move in with you rather than paying the facility every month, I encourage you to think about “cost” in a broader way. If the facility isn’t providing the care your loved one needs, it will fall to you. What will that cost you? What will you sacrifice in your job, in your family, in self-care? We don’t want it to come down to money, but it ultimately has to at some point. If your mom needs 24/7 care and you contract that out to a home care service, expect to pay at least $10,000 a month. Few families can afford that for any length of time. When you’re out of money, what do you do then? Your options become more limited.
Family Pressure + Caregiver Guilt + More Attention + Money Worries
For many caregivers, the “why” is “all of the above.” People often feel the reason that they want to bring their loved one home from a nursing home is because they feel bad and want dad to have it a little better. This can be difficult to untangle, but if you’re primary caregiver, it’s important to sort it out before you make any moves.
What should you do? I can’t give you an answer, but I can offer a piece of advice. Remember what motivated your original decision to move your parent to a long-term care facility. They’re there because they needed more care than you could provide. If you’re ready, willing, and able to bridge the gap, home might be the right place for mom. If not, she may be better off where she is.
If you’re thinking of moving your loved one home and you want to sense-check your situation with people who manage these situations every day, Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law can help. Just give us a call.