How Do I Put My Mother or Father in a Nursing Home?

mom and dad in nursing home

Watching your parents grow old is not easy. You want to take care of them like they took care of you when you were a child. But, at some point, you may find you are no longer able to give them the care and attention they need to stay healthy and lead active lives. 

It may be time that you need to ask yourself, how do I put my mother or father in a nursing home?

Putting your mother in a nursing home can be done by having a three-day stay at a hospital and getting admitted directly from the hospital. During Covid 19 pandemic, you may be able to call the nursing home directly, ask for the admissions representative, and they will walk you thru the steps.

Another way is to speak with your doctor or medical provider and ask them to assist you with nursing home placement. One such company, InHouse Care LLC, can help you find the right home for you. They are primarily experts in nursing homes in Connecticut.  

As your parents grow older, there are so many things to consider regarding their care. Perhaps the hardest thing to know is how to start. Now that you have come to a conclusion about wanting to go to a nursing home let’s take a look at how to put your mother or father in a nursing home.

How do I Put my Mother or Father in Nursing Home?

It is a question we all dread asking ourselves; however, most of us will have to decide about long-term care for a loved one at some point in our lives. More healthcare options like at-home visits from nurses and trained medical assistants or using your phone or computer for telehealth visits with doctors and specialists means your mother or father may be able to stay in their home longer than previous generations. Eventually, though, circumstances may change, and you may find you can no longer provide the help and care your parent needs.

Don’t Wait Until Long-Term Care is an Immediate Necessity for Your Mother or Father.

Start early, so when the time comes to move your mother or father, there is less tension, and you can make a balanced decision. 

You may want to speak with your mother or father about long-term care insurance if they are not too aged to qualify. Having the right insurance could be the difference in staying at an assisted living facility vs. a nursing home. 

Talk to Your Mother or Father About Moving to a Nursing Home 

Involving them early in the process will help them feel more at ease and understand why this move is necessary. Ask them to give their doctor the right to disclose medical information about their health and to involve you in any medical discussions.

You may want to take your parents on a tour of a few nursing homes and let them select a couple of homes they would prefer to stay. Have a backup just in case your first selection is full when the time arrives. 

Get Advice from a Doctor About How to Put Your Mother or Father in a Nursing Home 

A doctor will have a different perspective than you. They can offer advice that, while caring, is less tied to personal emotions. The odds are that your mother or father may have specialists they visit as well as their primary doctor. It doesn’t hurt to ask as many as you can for their input.

Your attending medical doctor may even make rounds at the nursing home. In this case, you may want to pick a home that your medical provider covers. Your medical Doctor or Nurse Practitioner may provide services in the nursing home. They will provide medical care in the nursing home instead of being transported to the doctor’s office or hospital.

Do Your Research on How to Put Your Mother or Father in a Nursing Home

There are plenty of online resources to help you decide what to do and how to put your mother or father in a nursing home. Here are just three suggestions:

  • The American Association of Retired People (AARP)

  • The Administration on Aging and National Institute of Aging (AOA)

  • The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA)


Lookup Local Nursing Homes on

There is a Medicare website site that allows you to look up any potential nursing home. You will be able to get access to a rating system and information on the home.

You will get basic information such as the name, address, and phone number of the facility. There will be the star rating and the overall rating, health inspection, staffing, quality of resident care rating.

There is even additional information that could help you narrow the search. 

  • Number of certified beds
  • Participates in Medicare / Medicaid?
  • Medicare and Medicaid with a resident and family council?
  • Located within a hospital?
  • Automatic sprinkler systems in all required areas?
  • In a Continuing Care Retirement Community?
  • Ownership Type

What is The Medicare Star Rating System, and How Can it Help?

The Nursing Home Compare Web site features a quality rating system that gives each nursing home a rating of between 1 and 5 stars. Nursing homes with five stars are considered to have much above average quality, and nursing homes with 1 star are considered to have quality much below average. 

Schedule Time to Visit the Nursing Home or Long-Term Care Facility 

Visiting the facility may be more difficult than any time before. But if possible, it is worth the effort. If you can, and if they are able, it is good to bring your mother or father along so they can give you their opinion. After all, this could be the place they will be spending the time from now on.

However, we do not recommend using this as your only guide for selecting a nursing home. I have been to many two or three-star nursing homes that provide better care for residents. Having a high star rating only means that you met the criteria that medicare thinks is important. 

Involve Other Family Members in Your Father or Mother’s Care

If you are the primary caregiver, siblings and other relatives may be able to help you in your parent’s daily care. Remember, you are probably not the only one that loves and cares for your mother or father. Family can help with the everyday tasks to give you a break and provide support.

Keep in mind; you are not alone in this situation. Adult children choose to put their mother or father in a nursing home or other type of care facility every day. 

“Studies have shown that more than one in three Americans over the age of 65 will probably require nursing home care at some point.

By 2050, the number of individuals using paid long-term care services in any setting (e.g., at home, residential care such as assisted living, or skilled nursing facilities) will likely double from the 13 million.”

Signs That You May Need to Put Your Mother or Father in a Nursing Home or Other Long-Care Facility 

Your parents have always kept the house spotlessly clean and well-kept. The yard has always been mowed, and the plants watered. Your mother and father have taken pride in their appearance and careful to keep their clothes clean.

Now when you visit, you notice the dirty dishes piled in the sink. You see food that has not been put away. The trash has not been taken out, and your mother or father looks to be wearing the same clothes several days in a row. Does this mean you need to put your mother or father in a nursing home? Maybe or maybe not. Certain signs can help you evaluate the level and type of care your mother or father may need.

What Are Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

Activities of daily living or ADL are the simple things we all do every day. Activities of daily living center around tasks to maintain self-care and personal hygiene. At first, assisting or simply reminding your mother or father about these simple, everyday chores may not seem to be too difficult. As time progresses, the burden may become too much, which may be a sign that you need help.

Next, you need to consider how your mother or father is managing their home. The tasks that help us maintain how we live are called instrumental activities of daily living or IADL.

These are tasks that, as adults, your mother or father performed on a regular basis. Now, you may notice your mother or father is having difficulties managing these grown-up duties and may rely on you to handle these duties for them.

Let’s look at some ADL and IADL that can help you determine the next steps in caring for your elderly parents.

Are Your Mother or Father Bathing Regularly?

There may be a legitimate reason your mother or father has not taken a bath or shower. 

  • As people grow older, the risk of falling becomes more significant. Your mother or father may be afraid of injuring themselves. Taking a shower or getting in and out of a bathtub when no one is around to help may be frightening. Consider a specialized shower with a seat to help ease their fears. If you can, you may want to be around in the house when they are bathing. 
  • If your father or mother has a difficult time remembering, they may think they have bathed recently. In this case, it may be challenging to convince them otherwise. You may be tempted to shame them into bathing if they tend to forget often. However, shaming is not a good solution, and instead, you should try to reason with them. 

Can Your Mother or Father Dress Themselves

Getting dressed in the morning is something some people look forward to doing. If you notice your mother or father cannot manage buttons or zippers, maybe consider a wardrobe change.

  • Casual pants that pull up or have elastic waists can be a better choice for older folks who need help getting dressed. That doesn’t mean they are stuck with sweatpants unless they want them. There are plenty of more relaxed styles available. 
  • Tops that pull over their head rather than shirts or blouses with buttons. Again, there are plenty of nice styles available today. Make sure that your mother or father is flexible enough to pull the top over their head. If not, you may need help.
  • Some belts don’t require a hole and linkup. The new belts are much more user-friendly. All the patient has the do is feed the belt strap through the holder. This belt is much easier for the patient to manage.

Can Your Mother or Father Feed Themselves? 

As some people mature, their bodies may become uncooperative. They may not have the coordination they once did, or they may shake when trying to put food on their fork or in their mouth.

  • Cups with straws are helpful.
  • Finger food and sandwiches may be good choices, but in the case of a plate of food where utensils are needed, you may need to help feed your mother or father. 

Are Your Parents Managing Their Finances 

Do you notice stacks of unpaid bills? Have the lights or the water been cut off?  

  • While missing a payment once in a while is okay, consistently not paying or not knowing if bills have been paid may be a sign you need to step in and take over their finances. 
  • Another sign your mother or father may need help is the susceptibility to be scammed. The elderly are more likely to fall prey to frauds in person or on the phone. More and more people, young and old alike, are susceptible to online scams as well. 

Are Your Mother or Father Keeping Their Living Area Neat 

A few dirty dishes in the sink is one thing. Trash overflowing and loads of dirty clothes is another.

  • Consider why they may have stopped doing the task. Perhaps the laundry load or full trash bag is too heavy to carry. If the patient has memory issues, they may think they have done the laundry, but the hamper is full in reality.
  • Is the food in the refrigerator fresh? If you open up the fridge and you find more than that one leftover bowl of something green, it may be a sign that your mother or father is not eating healthy and needs long-term care.

Are Your Mother of Father Able to Make Their Meals?

Asking if your mother or father makes their meals doesn’t mean that they need to make coq au vin every night, but they should be able to make a simple sandwich or heat a bowl of soup. 

  • Think about filling their freezer with meals that are easy to heat up. Microwavable entrees are best if you want to eliminate your mother or father’s worry using a stove or oven.
  • Quick, healthy snacks are a good choice if you are worried about getting enough of the correct food type. 
  • Take your mother or father to the grocery store and pick out items together that are easy to cook and tasty. This is an excellent time to give them the ability to make their own choices and provide you with time to bond.

Simple workarounds may buy you some time for planning about putting your mother or father in a nursing home or long-term care facility. If they are having difficulties performing ADL or IADL, they will eventually need more help.

Other Points to Help You Decide When to Put Your Mother or Father in a Nursing Home

While there are ADL and IADL are good indicators that you may need to look into getting additional help in caring for your mother or father, there are other factors that play into your decision as well. 

If your father or mother feels isolated, they have a greater tendency towards clinical depression, which can lead to dementia and heart disease. Depression can also be a direct correlation to bad habits like:

  • Overeating
  • Heavy drinking
  • Increased smoking
  • Self-medicating and prescription abuse

Putting your mother or father in a nursing home or other long-term service provider may help give them the social interaction they need to thrive. 

Your mother or father’s health and safety may be another topic to discuss when you figure out how to put your mother or father in a nursing home.

  • Have they fallen several times?
  • Have they had to visit the emergency room various times?
  • Do they get easily confused or tend to wander off?
  • Do they have more severe health issues that require more round-the-clock care?

Having medical personnel nearby and quickly available to help and watch over your mother or father will help relieve some of the worries for both you and your loved one.

Signs as a Caregiver That You Need to Put Your Mother or Father in a Nursing Home

If you are the primary or only caregiver for your mother or father, that can significantly impact your life in several ways:

  • Emotionally
  • Mentally
  • Physically 
  • Financially

You may have your own family at home. 

You may have a job and a career. 

You may be older yourself. 

You may have physical issues. 

Whatever your circumstances, while you want to focus on your father or mother, you can’t forget about taking care of yourself as well.

  • You could hurt yourself lifting or moving your loved one.
  • You may not have the skills you need to give them the best care.
  • Caring for them may strain your relationships with others.
  • The added stress may cause you to become easily frustrated lose your temper more quickly.

Remember, they are growing older and becoming more reliant on you and others. Growing old and relying on others can be upsetting, and they may not handle their emotions well. If they have signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s, they may be confused as well. 

Understanding your feelings and theirs will help you get perspective and deal with more positive outcomes.

Coping Mechanisms for a Caretaker 

The stress of caring for an aging parent can negatively impact your life if you don’t have the tools to manage it. 

Consider Keeping Diary to Help Relieve the Pressure of Caring for Your Loved One

Putting your thoughts and emotions on paper can result in conversation, even if it is talking to yourself. Sometimes the act of writing is therapeutic itself. 

Take Time for Yourself to Manage the Constant Worry of Worrying for Your Parent

Everybody says this, but how many of us do it. Make sure to schedule downtime for yourself to breathe and gather your thoughts. Or make time not thinking at all.

Look to Others for Support

You don’t have to do this alone. Other people can help you and relieve some of the stress you are dealing with at home.

  • Your family. Your siblings and other close family members can make a choice with you. They may also be able to take on some of the financial responsibility. Finally, when it comes time to talk to your mother and father about what will happen, they can be involved in the discussion.
  • Their doctor. Their physician knows them and can give you their opinion about the best choice of care. Also, your father or mother may tend to listen to a medical professional and respect their opinion.
  • Your spiritual leader. If your mother or father is involved in their church, synagogue, or temple, having their religious leader talk to them may help smooth the transition.

Keep in mind what would happen to your mother or father if something happened to you. When you choose to put your mother or father in a nursing home, don’t forget that it may be for your good and theirs. 

How to Choose the Right Nursing Home or Long-term Care Facility 

Choosing a long-term care option is different from any other medical choice you will ever have to make. This is because there is no cure for growing older, and the decision you make can affect their quality of life and yours. 

When making your choice, you should consider the following things:

  • Cost-How will you pay for their long-term care. Can you handle the financial burden? Will insurance pay for some or all of the costs?
  • Location– Will your mother or father be near enough for you and your friends and family to make regular visits?
  • Environment-Is it clean and free from smells? Are the rooms and hallways comfortable and pleasing to the senses?
  • Staff– Are they friendly and respectful? Are there enough nurses and assistants to provide the level of care you expect? Take the time to visit the home and take a look around.
  • Social activities– You know your parents best. Are activities provided that will keep them interested and mentally challenged?
  • Food– Do your mother or father have special dietary needs? Is the food varied enough for their tastes? Are meals provided in a communal setting like a dining room, or can they be taken in the patient’s room if desired?
  • Accreditation– is the facility properly licensed? Have there been any complaints or concerns about the facility or its staff?

Is Putting Your Mother of Father in a Nursing Home the Only Choice?

Putting your mother or father in a nursing home is not an easy decision. Choosing the correct type of long-term care for your mother or father for their circumstance can help ease the transition of putting your mother or father in a nursing home. 

There are several options available when you are looking at long-term care for your mother or father. Which one is best for your parent will depend mainly on their physical and mental health and behavior. Also, keep in mind that time changes things and what may be the correct type of care for your mother or father today may not be the best choice later down the road.

Home Health Care

Your mother or father may not want to go to a nursing home and instead want to stay in their home as long as possible. If your parent can still do the basic activities of daily living and needs just a little extra help, this may be the best choice for them. 

Help can come from a family member or friend or non-skilled custodial care service. This type of care can be as simple as helping with shopping and household chores or support such as bathing and taking medicines. 

Multiple home health care agencies can provide trained assistance as well as skilled nurses. 

  • Pro: Your loved one stays in a familiar setting.
  • Con: As your mother or father ages, the amount of care they need may increase. This can be difficult for friends and family to handle by themselves.

Nursing Homes

If your mother or father needs more help with daily activities and medical care than you can provide, then a nursing home may be the best option. 

Nursing homes provide:

  • Round the clock care from medical professionals
  • Regular meals and help with feeding if needed.
  • Help with activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing.
  • Social activities are designed to help promote mental health and prevent depression.

Assisted Living Facilities

These facilities offer the additional medical care and supervision your mother or father may need in a more comfortable, relaxed setting. This allows your mother or father to remain independent and get the help and medical care they need. The type of care and services available depends on the needs and their mental and physical well-being.

  • Pro- This is an excellent option for those elderly that need occasional help. It can add to their quality of life if they want to stay independent for as long as possible. 
  • Con- Assisted living facilities may be pricier, and Medicare or Medicaid may not cover the full cost. 

Retirement Communities

Retirement communities are generally aimed at people usually 55 or older who can still live on their own. The advantage to these 55-plus neighborhoods is that they promote social activities where neighbors get to know each other and look out for each other. If needed, most can provide regular check-ins by community personnel or online telehealth visits. They can also arrange some additional temporary help if desired. 

  • Pro-Your mother or father can live in their own home without worrying about the maintenance that generally comes with homeownership.
  • Con-If your mother or father needs additional help, the community is not usually designed to provide it.

Making a move to Put Your Mother or Father in a Nursing Home

Ultimately, making long-term care choices is not easy. Growing older is a change most of us will have some problems grappling with. Watching someone growing older and move from the parent we knew to a person who needs our help for everyday things can be emotionally draining. 

One of the most important things to remember when trying to figure out when and how to put your mother or father in a nursing home or make any choices for their care is that you shouldn’t do it alone. 

You should get help doing your homework to find the right long-term care choice for your loved one. You may need help convincing your mother or father that this is the best choice for them. 

Remember, you want to make this transition as easy and as comfortable as possible. Keep the conversations calm and reassuring. 

Answering the question of “How do I put my mother or father in a nursing home?” will require patience and understanding. But in the end, you will be rewarded knowing your loved ones are safe and taken care of. 


I am a Family Nurse Practitioner working in the post acute setting which includes Nursing homes, Assisted living facilities. I have worked for two other companies that provided APRNs to the nursing homes and now run a company providing APRNs in this setting. I have experience with clinical, operations, and general nursing home topics. This blog is a hobby that I use to relax after a long day working in the post acute world.

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