Can I Put My Mom in a Nursing Home If She Is of Sound Mind?

No. Everyone has the personal autonomy to decide where they are going to live as well as all other matters about their life. 

That doesn't mean you can't talk to your parent about your concerns and consider alternatives to nursing homes. Just remember that seniors often have difficulty admitting they need help as they age. Giving up their autonomy is not something to take lightly. Do your best to be patient and speak with them from a place of love.   

You can gently address their signs of struggle: 

  • A dirty home in poor repair 
  • Unpaid bills 
  • Piles of unopened mail 
  • Out-of-date and spoiled food 
  • Poor personal hygiene 
  • Trouble managing medications 

Alternatives to Nursing Home Care

If you or your siblings are not prepared to have your parent live with you, it is possible to modify your parent's home by adding night lights, removing area rugs, installing grab bars in showers, and handrails on stairs. 

You can also purchase technology solutions, such as smart home devices, video cameras, and reminder applications for medications. It is possible to solve specific problems they may be experiencing. 

Search for local support services to check on your parent, provide meals, or help with household tasks. Looking into in-home care services for occasional or full-time assistance with daily chores and activities is another option. Medicare may cover some in-home care costs.

Rather than talking about a traditional nursing home, look into retirement communities and senior communal living arrangements. A roommate may also be an idea that they find acceptable. Some retirement communities allow seniors to transition from independent to assisted living and full-time care as necessary and when they feel ready. 

You will need to discuss the budget to see which solutions are affordable. Keep in mind that many government programs can help with expenses if finances are an issue.  

Talk to an elder law attorney to evaluate financial resources and determine if your parent may qualify for Medicaid or other benefit programs. Have an honest conversation about their health and safety. It may be difficult, but it's better than dealing with a sudden fall or illness that forces a move in an emergency.

Harry S. Margolis practices elder law, estate, and special needs planning in Boston and Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is the founder of and answers consumer questions about estate planning issues here and at