Nursing Homes & Shame (aka Nursing Homes Are Not a Punishment)

Let’s get rid of the shame and the guilt.

Your loved one lives in a nursing home. They need extra care and you aren’t equipped to provide it.

And you made a difficult decision. You didn’t just drop them off at the door. You visit as frequently as possible. Perhaps you know, at some level, it was the choice you had to make.

But still. You feel shame. You feel guilt. You feel like a failure as spouse or adult child.

Let go of the shame. Let go of the guilt. You aren’t a failure.

You are just a human being doing the best that you can.

If you have a loved one with dementia, there may be a time when a nursing home is your best option. Is it a great option? Perhaps not. But is there a better choice?

Many of us have homes that are not equipped for caregiving someone who has mobility issues. Most of us can’t quit our job for someone who needs full-time care. And home care is an expensive option that comes with its own challenges.

And some of us aren’t equipped physically or emotionally to provide in home care.

Sometimes people jokingly threaten that they will put their parents in a nursing home –because we see it as a punishment.

If you don’t do what I like, you’re going to a home.

But it’s not a punishment.

The need for nursing homes is an effect of our society. In societies where women typically are not employed, there is less need for nursing homes. Those caregiving responsibilities are generally given to women–who may be already caring for several children.

But this America. And it’s 2022.

80% of people living with dementia reside at home in the community, whether that be with their spouse, their children, alone, or with friends. Generally, most of the dementia journey is not spent in a nursing home. It is spent in the community.

For some individuals, it can work for someone with dementia to live at home as the disease progresses into end stage. For many others, it isn’t a possibility.

But joking about punishing loved ones by putting them in a nursing home does a disservice to all those who have had to make that decision.

We don’t put people in nursing homes because we hate them.

Sometimes we run out of other options.