Sunday, February 28, 2010
Would You Place Your Ill Partner in a Nursing Home?
I recently heard a story about a couple in which the wife has had Huntington's Disease for twenty years. They married in their early thirties and she was diagnosed five years later. Over the course of the last two decades, each exacerbation has left her at a lower level of functioning. For the past ten years, she has lost her ability to do any self care, to transfer herself from bed to toilet and back to bed, and to speak. Over the past five years, her cognitive abilities have become compromised.
Her husband has been her steadfast caretaker for all this time. He modified their house to make it handicap accessible. He found aides and home health care providers to help with her care. He took her to try many avenues of treatment. He was the primary parent. And he worked at a full time job.
Now, after twenty years, he realizes he just can't do it any more. He has his own physical conditions, and he is bone weary and wants more joy in his life as he enters his own final decades. He is afraid that if he keeps being the primary caretaker, he will get sick and be unable to help his wife at all.
He decided to place her in a high quality nursing home - for her sake and for his.
This is one of the toughest issues couples dealing with debilitating illness face. What do you think about this man's decision? Have you made the decision to place your ill partner in a nursing home or other long term care facility? Would you ever consider doing this?