Why do seniors often resist living in a nursing home?

Debra Giusto
Pediatric Nursing
Because they loose their independence.
Bonnie Lynn Wright, PhD
Geriatrics Nursing

Seniors are adults who have been responsible for raising their families, supporting their spouses, developing a career, etc. This self-image is hard to change comfortably. Over time, adults come to realize they do not run their children's or grandchildren's lives and let go of that image. They come to the point where maintaining the career is no longer an option and let go of that image. They may have even lost a spouse in spite of all the medical efforts to prevent that. The last thing they want to relinquish is control over themselves. That makes them child-like rather than the responsible adult they have been for decades. This is particularly true if they have lived in the same house for a long time and established family memories. Moving is like leaving the family behind. Some seniors believe that a nursing home is where you go to die. Once you go in, you don't leave except when you die. From this perspective, you can understand why seniors resist. 

A minority of seniors are able to make the decision themselves to go into a nursing home. They see the dangers of living alone in their frail state and are happy to have the comfort of knowing help is available without calling their adult children. However, most seniors need to be coaxed by their worried children who do not want them being found in a heap at the bottom of the stairs days after a fall. If the senior can be afforded as much dignity and semblance of maintaining control over their lives as possible, the process should go more smoothly.

There are professionals available to assist both the senior and their family cope with the transition to residential care. The family physician or other health care provider can speak to the senior's physical condition. Many facilities have placement staff to help if the transition comes after a hospitalization. Nursing homes have professional staff that assess the applicant and can work with the family to answer questions and smooth the transition.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.