General Question


Why do so many families abandon their own senior family member to a rest home?

Asked by RANGIEBABY (2097points) July 28th, 2010

I have visited many rest homes in my life, and there are many seniors just abandoned there. Nobody comes to visit, or check up on their well being. Is it because they are too busy with their families, or they just don’t care?

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24 Answers

Scooby's avatar

I visit my Mother twice a week, it would be more but she just doesn’t want me bothering her, “twice a week is enough son ”! she says, “you’ve got your own life to lead”. I don’t know about other people but my own family, I’m truly ashamed of! My Mother brought four people into this world & never asked for a bean, when my father died she did it all by herself, we wanted for nothing ! Now you’d think she only had one son, where are they, you might ask! Hovering around waiting for the rich pickings, makes me sick to the stomach, they just don’t care! excuse after excuse why they can’t find the time, One day they’ll come that I’m sure of , & something else too, they’ll go away with nothing……. :-/

YARNLADY's avatar

It is in their best interest to do so.

perspicacious's avatar

Different families have different reasons. Often, the family can’t care for their senior. More often they don’t want to. Also, some seniors do not want to be cared for by their families, especially if they need total personal care. There was a time in this country, and it still exists in many cultures, when the seniors were the most respected family member and adult children felt it an honor to be the one to care for an elderly parent.

I had an aunt and a mother-in-law who were in nursing homes and I witnessed the same abandoned patients you speak of. I found it heartbreaking. The woman in the room with my mother-in-law always thought I was her daughter when I was there. I just let her think that; it made her smile.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Many families are incapable of caring for their elderly loved ones, and professional care is the best option available to them. Adapting a house and the lifestyle of a whole family for an elderly person is expensive and time consuming, and often still does not reach the standards of a good nursing home.
My grandmother has Alzheimer’s Disease, and is very confused. Our house has multiple split levels and many flights of stairs which she would not be able to climb thanks to her bilateral knee replacements. Professional care is the best place for her, and she is in one of the best homes there are. Each of her children visit her at least once every three weeks, so she is far from abandoned.

NaturallyMe's avatar

I can only think of a few scenarios as to why they don’t bother to visit. Either they don’t care, or they live too far away to visit often (perhaps the home they’re in was the best one they could find even if it ended up being far away from them), or they don’t have a good relationship due to some sort of abuse or poor treatment from the parent.

Andreas's avatar

@RANGIEBABY This is always an emotive issue for all involved. Before my Late Mother-in-Law went into a home Anita and I discussed having her live with us. However, because she was going into dementia, we would have had to take her everywhere with us for her safety and our own peace of mind. In her own home she used to put the plastic electric kettle on the gas stove, because she always used a metal kettle on the gas stove.

I, too, have seen many forgotten souls in homes and it tugs at the heart strings. I suppose this situation that our elderlie citizens find themselves in is a hallmark of our times.

Cruiser's avatar

Many times these seniors have out lived their immediate family and there is no one close left to visit them. One of the reasons I do not want to live beyond a functioning and self sustaining age.

mattbrowne's avatar

Only some are abandoned. There are cases when elderly care nursing is the better option and already struggling families can’t handle a situation. There are no easy solutions.

BoBo1946's avatar

@mattbrowne very true. Dealth with this myself. Mother is in an assisted care facility, not a nursing home. She can come and go as she please. She loves it. But, if that day comes, she will have to go to a nursing home. I’m not physically able to handle it. I’m no “spring chicken” myself. There are several nursing homes around here and some are very bad. Have done my homework and there is a great one only 20 minutes from my home. It is a beautiful facility with a great staff. VERY expensive, but when it comes to your mom, you get what you pay for..she will get the best.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Cruiser‘s point about some of these folks having outlived their loved ones is a valid one. If an individual remained single or chose not to have children, they might have only siblings and friends who could be in the same or a similar situation. Even if they have nieces and nephews they could be dealing with their own elderly parents.

I also wonder if it has to do with the fact that families tend to spread out across the country. I have five brothers and sisters but none of us live in the same city as my father. In the event that my father ends up in a nursing home I am not sure if any of us are in a position to leave our lives and move closer so he is not alone out there. If the senior is reluctant to leave the city where they live, it might be impossible for family members to be close by and visit daily. Some of the folks who seem to be abandoned may receive phone calls every day, lots of cards and letters, emails, skypes, IM’s etc. I do love the idea of Adopt a Grandparent, for the seniors and for those who benefit from spending time with them.

I adore my grandfather. I love to sit and listen to his stories as often as possible. I am fortunate to live in the same city as him. so the boys and I are off to his assisted living facility this morning for a slice of pie and some good conversation.

nayeight's avatar

I know this sounds really really bad, but I don’t like old people. I love my grandma but I don’t really like her. She doesn’t live in a home or anything but she does live 2–3 hours away. She’s only about 73 (I’m 23) but she’s really really boring. She’s very quiet and doesn’t say much and when 6pm rolls around, she’s in bed. I see her on holidays and talk to her maybe once a month on the phone but I really have no desire to spend a lot of time with her or any other senior.

jca's avatar

it seems like a lot of the answers are answering “why did the family put their senior in a rest home” where the question is “why do the families abandon their senior to a rest home” and the person asking goes on to explain that she’s referring to the family and friends never visiting.

i think to answer the question, the families often don’t visit because they have their own stuff going on, especially if the families have young children or teens, they are busy taking the kids to their sports, camp, whatever, plus the families often have both parents working, and to spend half of every Saturday or Sunday visiting a nursing home can be a hardship, especially if it’s a long ride to get there and back.

john65pennington's avatar

I must be the exception to the case, concerning your question. first, i never considered my mother to be abandoned in a nursing home. i visit her every other day.

When your mother or father becomes frail and cannot take care of themselves, its time to consider other choices for them. when they fall out of their wheelchair twice a week, then its time to consider their safety. my home is not constructed in order to provide for a wheelchair, so a nursing home was the only choice. i thoroughly checked out this one nursing home, before i enrolled my mother. they treat her like an angel.

So, see, she is not abandoned by any means. she is loved very much and deserves only the best in her twilight years.

I do agree, that this abandonment is happening and i do not agree with it at all.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

My mother still lives in her home. She won’t leave. She says they will take her out of her house “in a box” and nothing less. She did not take care of her health like many women of her generation——she smoked like a chimney and took a lot of prescription drugs which impaired her more. She worked a full schedule and has a very comfortable retirement. As she has become more frail, I asked her to move in with me. She refused. She has hired someone to be with her full-time. She likes it that way because she pays someone and can boss them around and they won’t tell her (as I do) not to eat junk food and to exercise.

I am sure that some of the people in my hometown think I also “abandoned” her. But I didn’t. Aside from the fact that I live halfway across the world… I did offer to move closer and let her come stay with me. She refused. My two siblings are close by and she upsets them so much, they don’t enjoy going over to see her. She is ornery in her old age…not pleasant and a bit of a dictator. She is not easy to live with. When I went to visit her, I was “not allowed” to go out with my friends. I had to be back by 10 p.m. (Yes, I’m an adult…I’m a boomer, for goodness sakes.) If I was not at home by 10 p.m. she would sit up waiting for me and then rake me over the coals. It was like I was back in high school!

I think there are a lot of reasons….why old people are abandoned. I know there are people who just don’t care. People who think old people are disposable. People who are too busy to take the time to do so. And there are people who don’t like old people. I adored my grandparents. I would go and just sit with them for hours and we would chat and laugh and carry on——until they died in their nineties. Some children just don’t know how to “be” with old people. They need a Gameboy or some other distraction which I think is a shame. My daughter loved my dad and my mom and was with my father (as I was) when he passed away. As he was deteriorating, she would go in and speak to him and engage him in conversation and she was 8–12. She never let his disease hamper her. A lot of children are not taught how to respect aging.

But sometimes, old people push their families away. I love my mom, but she doesn’t make it easy to be near her.Even my daughter has found it to be hard work. It still makes me very, very sad that I do not have a relationship with her that is nurturing and loving. And yes, I’m working on it, still.

Scooby's avatar


You hit the nail on the head there more than thrice, my mother was very much the same before she would admit she needed full time care, it took too many falls & bumps on the head for her to realise it was in her best interest, she still shouts me like I’m a little kid when I visit Lol. “tuck your shirt in” “stop slouching” “look at me when I’m talking to you” I feel so sorry for her carers , she’s had them in tears more than once, I doubt I ever could have coped… :-/

evandad's avatar

I think the abandonment usually happens after the person has turned into a drooling vegetable. I don’t think it makes any difference at that point.

loser's avatar

My 75 year old Mother became physically unable to care for her 95 year old Mother. She didn’t abandon here, though. She went and saw her every day. It was harder for me so I only visited Grandma once a week or so.

keobooks's avatar

Don’t always take the word of the senior that they are totally abandoned. I know many who are abandoned but some people, whether it’s dementia or for some other reason, they will claim to be abandoned and it isn’t true.

My grandmother gets panic attacks and she’ll call me 8 or 9 times in a row freaking out and thinking that I am screening my calls. She will call up all of her friends and various family members telling them that I never return her calls and I’ve totally abandoned her. The truth is, she’s always called me while I was at work or just away from the house. She doesn’t seem to get that other people leave their home and do other things because she doesn’t do that stuff anymore.

She does it so much that I’m sure theres a few people out there who feel sorry for my poor old abandoned grandmother. But I come see her and talk to her all the time. So do several other people. But if she’s in one of her moods, she will tell you that she’s totally alone and everyone has forgotten her.

knitfroggy's avatar

My grandpa had a stroke and just as he was going to be released to go home in a day or two, the hospital let him fall and he broke his hip. They didn’t have his bed rails up and he fell. It was posted above his bed he was a fall risk. He had to be placed in a nursing home at that point. He was about six feet tall and over 200 pounds. There is no way my grandma could have taken care of him or afforded private nursing care. He was never abandonded. My grandma went to the home everyday of the week for over three years. My aunt worked at the home and all the grandkids and my mom all did our best to visit as much as possible. Of course most people would love to take care of their family at home, but it’s just impossible a lot of time.


@all I respect all of the personal answers and reasons. I think @jca was correct about the part where the abandonment enters the picture, is when no family members come to visit. Many do at first, and then it gets lost somewhere. As for me I was in the same situation as @Scooby , I have 3 sisters we all living in the same town. I lived 50 miles away up in the mountains. When my dad died, someone had to take care of my mother. One of them worked 5 days a week. We all had grown children. I came out of the hospital having had a bilateral fusion and laminectomy and went directly to my mothers house to care for her. I finally had to go home to take care of my husband, so I told her she would have to move in with me. She really didn’t want to leave her home where she lived with dad, but smiling an willingly went with me. She had her own room and I had so much fun taking care of her for a change. She even jokingly said “your baby is wet” with a sweet little face and a twinkle in her eye. Her delicate health forced me into putting her into a rest home because I was too far from a hospital and it was endangering her life. And oh my, none of my sisters could help. So, she went with a smile thinking she would be able to return to my home one day, when the doctor said it was okay. My husband and I drove to see her almost every day. I got to know the nurses and stories about other folks there. Most did not have any body coming to see them, even though they had family and friends. For some reason they just get forgotten. Taking care of my mother enriched my life so much, I can’t even describe it to you.
Thank all of you for taking the time to tell your story.

gimmedat's avatar

My grandfather lives in an assisted living facility. I see him at least once a week and phone him regularly. He’s a nice old guy who just could not manage a household on his own and who really required someone looking in on him daily. He is still pretty active into his nineties, and has a lot of family around him, so he is by no means abandoned.

Now, my grandmother was a different story. I do feel like I abandoned her. When she was initially moved into the nursing home, I took my children and visited her frequently. I took her out when I was able and it was nice. However, as time went on, her dementia grew more intense and she didn’t know me, she was angry and unhappy. I stopped seeing her as often because she was not the person I knew and it was rough. This was a totally selfish response, but that shell if a lady was nothing of the tacky gaudy woman that made my grammy my grammy. Watching her deteriorate was one of the most difficult things I’ve been through. She was placed in the home by her husband of nearly 70 years because he knew he could not take care of her. He visited her everyday and was often the target of her mean rants (through no fault of her own, she was simply trapped in her head with delusional thoughts). She was never abandoned, though, she also had a ton of family aroun her who she received visits from daily.

I personally do not know what option is better: letting an elderly relative live independently with the risk of making some “mistake” that potentially could harm him/herself and others and die happily independent, or moving that elderly person into a facility that provides 24-hour care and security. It’s a tough choice for many families and one, I’m sure, not made lightly. I would hope that most nursing homes are full of people whose families maintain an active role in overseeing care. I would love to know the statistics of the number of nursing home residents who receive no to few visits.


The thing is you don’t have to spend much time visiting, in fact 10 to 15 minutes is perfect for the patient. Basically, just seeing you often for short periods of time is the best process for them. I made sure I did not over stay and tire her out. I would take a little fingernail kit and soak her fingers and do all the things that needed to be done, then rubbed her hands with cream. Sometimes we didn’t even speak, I would look up at her and she would be looking at me over the top of her glasses with a kind loving look on her face, then would add a smile. I would reciprocate and we had a wonderful communication with just that. By the time I was finished rubbing her hands and up her arms, she was so relaxed and ready for a nap. A kiss, hug and a see you later, I was off to make a quick check with the nurses. I always wanted them to see me coming and going at different times so they knew they could not get away with shabby care. It works, to come at different times. Another time I would do her feet. She loved it. 15 minutes and you are done.

john65pennington's avatar

Some treat their parents as a liability, now that their useful years to them, are no more.

Province's avatar

Because some seniors left their children when they were young. How can you take care of someone who abandoned you when you were a kid?

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