Would you send your parent to a nursing home?

ST website

The picture (right) on today’s Straits Times’ website about life in a nursing home reminds me of what three friends and I discussed over a scrumptious dinner (black pepper crab spahgetti, pumpkin soup followed by coffee) at Cedele @ Wheelock Place last nite hosted by JL3. (I have at least four friends with the initials JL).

Actually, our animated get-together hadn’t intended to focus on nursing homes but it so happened that JL — my regular benefactor to high-brow events — was interested in visiting a property owned by JL4 (my old school mate who wasn’t present at last nite’s feast), that’s a hop, skip and jump from where I live.

JL’s interest is due to the fact that she believed her octogenarian mum grew up in one of the houses in that cluster of pre-war homes next to Balmoral Plaza. She wanted to take her mother there as a sort of trip down memory lane.

dinner at Good Sheperd Lodge

But I pointed out that part of that cluster has been converted recently into a step-down care outfit, with capacity for 22 patients. It’s called the Good Shepherd Loft and “your mum”, I cautioned, “might get the wrong idea, if you take her there for a visit”.

JL took the cue, especially after I mentioned that an ex-classmate of mine had sent her 95 year old mum there recently to recuperate after a fall.

Since I’m living so nearby, I dropped in to see the old woman once and found the lodge pleasant, the care-givers kind and the two Catholic doctors who run the place friendly and involved. In fact the male doctor sat among the patients while dinner was being served. And the food (above) looked tasty and freshly home-cooked.

Following my “dampener”, JL asked: “Would you send your mum to a nursing home?” For her and JL3, it was a clear no but then their mothers aren’t anywhere near dependent yet. JL3’s mum goes out on her own and makes dinner. JL’s mum travels to Europe every year, including 2011 and still manages to cook too, though she was also in her late 80s.

For the other friend at our dinner, AE, the question is moot. Her mum went to heaven 20 years ago.

My own take? Never say never, even though the plan and the firm intention is to keep one’s mum close by one’s side, especially since we have been sharing a home for close on 30 years.

My mother is still doing fine with the support of her maid and is happy and healthy enough. A recently acquired wheelchair has allowed us to go out more often to eat — as her wobbly gait had made it be4 the wheel-chair excrutiating for by-standers to watch. Food alas is the only true joy that’s accessible to mum nowadays.

Still my cautious stand against making a firm promise never to abandon my surviving parent to third party care was reinforced today after a quick visit to a public assistance case who has been warded in Tan Tock Seng Hospital for a few days and may have to remain there for several more days yet.

The octogenarian lives in a one-room HDB rental flat and survives on $400 of public assistance.per month He has no immediate family that I know of and has in recent years been plagued by ill health. Now he is seriously ill and hasn’t been able to swallow even water for several days. He awaits further medical tests and treatment.

If any of our mothers should be in this state but is subsequently pronounced well enough to go home — to tube feeds for the rest of their lives — are we so certain that we would keep beloved mum at home, even if there is constant maid support?

That’s why I hope that none of the three of us with mother still living will ever have our tenacity and determination tested by having to choose between turning our homes into a hospital ward for one or sending her to a nursing home. 😦

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4 thoughts on “Would you send your parent to a nursing home?

  1. hey auntie lucy,
    i think the question is more at what point do you decide to send your parents to one, for me as much as i can afford to take care of them i would do as a filial daughter would. but there comes a time when you need to decide that there is so much you can do and there is so much more care they need that cannot be provided at home.

    then i guess that’s the point from where you decide if you want to have a full time stay @ home nurse or send them to a nursing home. but then again life is so unpredictable and day by day many people are finding that as filial as they want to be real life issues of working enough so as there is food on the table as well as other family commitments such as [from a women/wife point of view] the kids and the in-laws, and the husband, those issues are the kinds of things that would stand in the way of being filial.

    i would say full time nurse > nursing home, at least there are daily interactions as compared to weekly/monthly/when-i-am-free visits, growing up along side one has shown me alot, and i realize, from an old person point of view, it can get pretty lonely, just to see your kids or grandkids, its really sad, then again this is life.

  2. Hi Jaz! Wot a lovely surprise to get yr comment. When do u come back to Sg for a visit? This time, I want to take u n yr mum to a newly opened cafe at Jalan Riang, near where u live. It’s owned by the kids of an old school-mate. Make sure u get in touch when u r back!

    Yr comment is very valuable esp like u say, you have seen it first-hand all your life since u joined the family. And it’s often not a question of being filial or not, when one’s parents have to be put into 3rd party care, esp when one isn’t there to give real 1st person care. What point that is depends on each individual’s die-die must do commitments and also how ill the parent concerned is.

    There is now a growing market for boutique nursing/old age homes like Good Shepherd Loft which incidentally is housed in premises belonging to another of my old school mates!

  3. I remember Mr Koombri and his wife (the couple featured the the ST article) as they were helped by Breadline for several years when they were living in a one room flat in Bedok. Although she was intellectually disabled, you could see that he really cared for her. Despite their lack of worldly goods, they enjoyed each other’s company and behaved lovingly towards each other.

    Unfortunately he had to be hospitalised and I had to alert the Social Worker that his wife was unable to fend for herself. In the interim, she was helped by her neighbours. I’m glad that they managed to be reunited once again.

  4. Hi Richard, so nice to see u dropping in here! Breadline and you fill a much needed n invaluable gap between what the social worker n the high-profile NGOs do!

    As a matter of fact I was going to contact u re the case at Bendemeer Rd in which u played a pivotal part in getting the octogenarian much needed state support. There’s been an awful turn for the worse and I’ve alerted his MP with message in his FB wall (repro below) but alas not sure whether such busy pple ever read their wall messages. Yet don’t dare to raise to higher because I don;t want another Sim Ah Beng!

    Comment on Edwin Tong’s FB Wall:
    “Mr Tong, you may be interested to know tt one of your constituents at Blk 33 Bendemeer Rd is now in TTSH Ward 9c, bed 91. He’s a PA case and given his condition, he cld become a statistic of someone dying alone in a one-room flat without anyone knowing — after discharge, if the NGO looking after him isn’t stringent enough abt their follow-up.”

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