Friday, September 6, 2013

Putting a Loved One in a Care Home

For those of you following me, you know that my father has a terminal neurological disorder and has been living with us for the past eight years. The last year has been incredibly difficult. Dad disease has progressed to the point that we can no longer care for him, but because we have been fighting with the IRS about a tax issue of his, we have not been able to get him the care that he needs.

The good news is that we have a tax advocate now, and we are currently working towards some kind of resolution with the IRS. There is no guarantee that it will be a good resolution, but at least the tax advocate was able to get the IRS to stop taking his money.

We were able to move dad into a board and care home this last Tuesday. Over the Labor Day weekend, we got his belongings moved in and decorated his room with the family pictures he loves so much. I was lucky enough to find a care home with a private room, so he has a lot of space.

I have to admit that moving him to care was bittersweet. I know it is the best thing for all of us, but it's still so hard to let go. I picked a great place, and I know he is going to be well cared for.

Since I am a consultant at care homes for adults, I knew I had to do my homework to pick the best place for dad. Board and care homes are great because they offer a smaller, more personal alternative for people who need care, but are not in need of a nursing/convalescent facility.

Board and cares are converted family homes in regular neighborhoods, and there are usually six or fewer residents with 24/7 staff members who care for them. There are some licensing restrictions about the level of medical care that they can provide, so it's important to talk with the board and care owner to see if they can provide the services your loved one needs, or if convalescent care is necessary.

Here are some things to think about if you are considering placing a loved one in a board and care home:

  • ·        What population do they serve? Many care home specialize in areas like behavioral concerns, medically fragile, dementia, etc. Choose one that best fits your loved one's needs.
  • ·        Is the home clean? A good care home will be clean, well organized and free of odors.
  • ·        How do the other residents look? Are they wearing clean, appropriate clothes? Are they at a healthy weight? Don't be afraid to talk to them to see what they think about the home and staff.
  • ·        Check with the community care licensing department in your area to see if the care home has had any licensing violations.
  • ·        Is the home in a safe area? Does the home have an alarm system? Are any of the other residents aggressive or have other behavioral problems that may endanger your loved one?
  • ·        Are they flexible with their visiting schedule? Homes that don't encourage a lot of involvement from the family may be suspicious.
  • ·        Make random, unannounced visits, especially around meal times to see what they are serving.
  • ·        Talk to your loved one regularly to see how things are going. Take them seriously if they make complaints. Care homes have a grievance process to try to deal with problems that may arise.
  • ·        Are the staff members friendly and do they interact with the other residents?
  • ·        Don't settle for the first home you find. Try to visit as many as possible, so that you can compare and make the best choice.
  • ·        Most insurances don't cover board and care homes, so they are usually private pay. This can be difficult depending on how much money is available. As a general rule, the more care the resident needs, the higher the fees can be. While board and care homes can be expensive, they are generally half of what convalescent care costs (however, convalescent facilities are more often covered under medical insurance).

Listen to your gut. If you go into a board and care home and you don't feel right, there's usually a reason.

Dad is doing great and really loves his new room. The home is closer to the Starbucks he likes to hang out at in the afternoon, so he doesn't have to ride his bike as far. He said he likes the food, and the staff are really good to him. My sister bought him a little refrigerator, so I stocked it with his favorite drinks and chocolate :) 

I am so grateful to all of you who have sent your love, helpful comments, messages, and support over this last year while we have been trying to work all this out. It has made all the difference. 


  1. So happy you found a great board and care home for him. My dad was in one before he passed away, and I absolutely loved the care he received. It's very difficult to let them go, but it is the best solution for all of you.
    You, your dad, and your family are always in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. My grandmother has alzheimer's. Luckily, she's been able to remain in the care of my grandfather so far. I can't imagine how hard making that decision must be. Best wishes to you and your family. Thanks for sharing such a personal story.


    1. Thanks for taking the time to read it. I wish you all the best with your grandmother, Natasha. Alzheimer's is a tough one.