True story: recently a colleague told me she’d received a phone call from a friend on the West Coast, a geriatrician I’ll call Dr. Z. His 85-year old father, who lived on the East Coast, had fallen at home and broken his arm. He was in the hospital but would soon be discharged. He was insistent he’d be fine returning home. After all, up until this injury he’d still been living independently. He drove himself to the store and to his medical appointments.
The day may come, when in spite of everyone’s best efforts, it’s no longer safe for Mom or Dad to stay at home. This can be a heart wrenching decision for any family to make, especially if you’ve made a promise to your parents that you would never place them in a nursing home. It’s natural to feel ambivalence, sadness, and even guilt when a parent’s caregiving needs become too much to handle.