The worst day of my mother's life was the day she placed her own mother in a nursing home. It was also the worst day of my grandmother's life, although it is unclear how aware she was of this, her mind already lost to Alzheimer disease. I carry the legacy. I have vowed that I will not place my parents in a nursing home if I have any alternative.
Fortunately, more alternatives are available now than when my grandmother was “placed” 30 years ago. Older persons, disabled younger adults, and the soon-to-be-old baby boomers have successfully advocated for more home- and community-based resources. For example, home nursing and in-home supportive services enable persons who might otherwise have required nursing home placement to remain in their homes. Adult day care centers are another way for people to live at home and receive needed nursing services, along with socialization services, during the day; this works especially well for people who have family members who can care for them in the evenings and on weekends. Some people maintain independence yet have extra support and social engagement by moving into assisted-living facilities.