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A Difficult Decision: Placing my Father in a Nursing Home

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A middle aged woman is hugging her father.
Follow the emotional journey of a daughter who had to make the difficult decision of placing her father with Alzheimer's in a nursing home for his safety and wellbeing.
He Doesn’t Belong Here!

I looked around the room and saw all these elderly people just sitting there. I started crying uncontrollably and saying, ``He doesn’t belong here!`` The nurse who had shown me the room that had just become available, for my 91 year old father, at a long term care home, put her loving arms around me and just held me. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that my father, Giuseppe, would end up in a nursing home, instead of living his golden years at home with his loving family. Having him admitted here was one of the hardest decisions that I have ever made, but I felt like I had to do it for the safety and wellbeing of my family and for his as well. It was a difficult journey that led me to this moment.

I will never forget that afternoon when I opened the door and there stood a police officer at the front door of my parents’ house. I had decided to pass by their home after work. It was almost 4:30 and my dad was not home. My mom told me that he had taken the bus to Canadian Tire, which was about a half hour away, to return a pipe that he had purchased earlier in the day. It was unusual for him to be out so late, especially since it got dark at 5:00 now. I had a feeling that something was not right. As soon as I saw the cop, I cried out, “Where’s my father?!” He told me that my father was fine and that he was in the police car. He explained that my dad had been found wandering around on the 407. When my dad was brought into the house I asked him why he had been walking on the 407 and he said that it was because the bus hadn`t come, so he decided to walk home and then he got disoriented because of all the construction that was going on in the area. This was the moment when I knew that something was definitely wrong with my father.

That week, I took my father to see his doctor. She referred him to a specialist at Bay Crest Hospital, where he underwent some testing and was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He was still able to function on a daily basis, but we had to keep an eye on him. I told him that he was no longer to go out on his own and that he was to call me or my husband if he needed to go anywhere.

Looking back, there were signs of Alzheimer’s. He had started to misplace things like his car keys and wallet. He couldn`t pass his written drivers test anymore. He cut down a tree in his neighbour’s backyard saying that the neighbour had asked him to do so. He was accusing people of taking things. He had started to place a chair behind the front door in case an intruder was to come in, even though my parents’ house had an alarm system.

A few months went by, and during this time, my energetic mom suffered a stroke which left her unable to walk, so she had to come and live with me and my family, but my father refused to. I was concerned about leaving him alone, but I felt that he was still okay to live on his own. Me and my family would go and see him every day. On the advice of my doctor, I took a leave of absence from work. I was now dealing with two sick parents. It was very stressful, especially since I was an only child. I remember one day getting in the car and driving and with tears pouring down my face. I just needed to talk to someone. I ended up going to a cousin’s house and just crying on her shoulder and letting out all my emotions.

One day, my dad was complaining that he was not feeling well and he looked very weak, so I took him to Emergency. The doctor had suspected that he had probably had a heart attack. He was kept in the hospital for about a week or two. During this time my mom suffered a major stroke and was admitted to another hospital. I had both parents in two different hospitals and they both needed me!

My father was not one to stay in a hospital. He wanted to leave. They had to give him an antipsychotic drug to keep him calm. I noticed that after he was given this drug his Alzheimer’s got worse. I knew that he could no longer live alone. My plan was to take him to come and live with me once he was released from the hospital. To my surprise he did not put up a fight. God had answered my prayers!


Having my father at home eventually started to take its toll on me. I had been told at the hospital that a PSW would be assigned to come and help me out with my father, but no one came because there was a shortage of PSWs. He would not sleep in the guest room upstairs, but preferred to sleep sitting up on the couch in the family room. I could not leave him alone because I was afraid of him trying to leave the house, so I had to sleep on a second couch in the same room. Some nights he would wake me up saying that we had to go to the hospital to see my mother. He would also get up and wander around the house going through the closets and drawers.


I wasn’t getting enough sleep and I was starting to feel so anxious that I felt like I had a knot in my stomach. I could feel my blood pressure going up. I tried calling the Alzheimer`s Society to get help on how to deal with my father, but they were not always available. I was told that there were support groups that met once a month, but I needed help now. What I needed was someone who understood about Alzheimer`s to talk to whenever I was feeling stressed or overwhelmed, but no one was ever available. Not only was I dealing with my father, but during this whole time my mom was still in the hospital and I had to go and see her every day because she was not well. This situation was starting to affect my health.

I called CCAC and my father was assessed by them. I was told that if I wanted to place him in a nursing home that he would need to be placed in a secure unit that was for Alzheimer`s patients. I inquired about long term care homes and then I personally visited some of them. I wanted him to be in a place where he was treated with respect and compassion, a place that was clean, safe and that had good food. It was also important that my father be stimulated with activities and entertainment throughout the day. I required a place that was experienced in dealing with Alzheimer`s patients. I preferred a home where there were Italian speaking residents as well as staff so that my dad could communicate with them better. I gave CCAC a list of my top five choices. Because my father was considered an urgent case, he was accepted in a nursing home in less than a week. He was placed in my fifth choice nursing home, which was really the place that I liked the most and the closest one to my house, but I chose it last because I was told that there was a three year waiting list to get in. I really lucked out! A few days earlier, my mom was released from the hospital and placed at a nursing home, where her sister was. My parents were at two different nursing homes, one was in Scarborough and one was in Markham.


A man holding a cane.
My parents were at two different nursing homes, one was in Scarborough and one was in Markham.

Now that my dad had been accepted into a nursing home, my dilemma was getting my strong willed father to the nursing home and explaining to him that he had to stay there. I can`t even remember what I said to him. I just remember my husband and me taking him there and the nurse telling us that it would probably be best if my husband and I just left without saying anything to my father and that he would be fine, so we did just that.

To my surprise, my father adjusted well to his new home, even though I was not able to get him into a home that catered to Italian speaking residents. There were a few staff members that spoke Italian and were able to translate for him when needed. I liked the fact that the nursing home was next door to a hospital and within a five minute drive from my home. Two months later, to my delight, my mom was transferred to the same nursing home as my father. I would visit my parents every day because I needed to see them and also to make sure that they were being treated well. Having both my parents together and so close to home made a big difference. I was able to visit them frequently and if there were any issues with them I was able to get to them within minutes.

Living in a nursing home was not like being at home, but one thing that I liked about the place that my parent were in, is that it was small and because of that, the staff, residents and family members got to know each other and became one big family, where everyone looked out for each other and supported each other. I even got involved with the family council and eventually became the president of it. I also volunteered once a week at their caf←. It was important that I got involved so that I could keep an eye on my parents and also help to make improvements in the home where needed.

I no longer felt like my father did not belong in a nursing home, like I did on the first day when I went to see it. He had adjusted well to the environment and he was being well taken care of. I know that I had made the right decision, for him and for me and my family.

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A Difficult Decision: Placing my Father in a Nursing Home

Updated: Aug 25, 2023


A middle aged woman is hugging her father.
Follow the emotional journey of a daughter who had to make the difficult decision of placing her father with Alzheimer's in a nursing home for his safety and wellbeing.
He Doesn’t Belong Here!

I looked around the room and saw all these elderly people just sitting there. I started crying uncontrollably and saying, ``He doesn’t belong here!`` The nurse who had shown me the room that had just become available, for my 91 year old father, at a long term care home, put her loving arms around me and just held me. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that my father, Giuseppe, would end up in a nursing home, instead of living his golden years at home with his loving family. Having him admitted here was one of the hardest decisions that I have ever made, but I felt like I had to do it for the safety and wellbeing of my family and for his as well. It was a difficult journey that led me to this moment.

I will never forget that afternoon when I opened the door and there stood a police officer at the front door of my parents’ house. I had decided to pass by their home after work. It was almost 4:30 and my dad was not home. My mom told me that he had taken the bus to Canadian Tire, which was about a half hour away, to return a pipe that he had purchased earlier in the day. It was unusual for him to be out so late, especially since it got dark at 5:00 now. I had a feeling that something was not right. As soon as I saw the cop, I cried out, “Where’s my father?!” He told me that my father was fine and that he was in the police car. He explained that my dad had been found wandering around on the 407. When my dad was brought into the house I asked him why he had been walking on the 407 and he said that it was because the bus hadn`t come, so he decided to walk home and then he got disoriented because of all the construction that was going on in the area. This was the moment when I knew that something was definitely wrong with my father.

That week, I took my father to see his doctor. She referred him to a specialist at Bay Crest Hospital, where he underwent some testing and was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He was still able to function on a daily basis, but we had to keep an eye on him. I told him that he was no longer to go out on his own and that he was to call me or my husband if he needed to go anywhere.

Looking back, there were signs of Alzheimer’s. He had started to misplace things like his car keys and wallet. He couldn`t pass his written drivers test anymore. He cut down a tree in his neighbour’s backyard saying that the neighbour had asked him to do so. He was accusing people of taking things. He had started to place a chair behind the front door in case an intruder was to come in, even though my parents’ house had an alarm system.

A few months went by, and during this time, my energetic mom suffered a stroke which left her unable to walk, so she had to come and live with me and my family, but my father refused to. I was concerned about leaving him alone, but I felt that he was still okay to live on his own. Me and my family would go and see him every day. On the advice of my doctor, I took a leave of absence from work. I was now dealing with two sick parents. It was very stressful, especially since I was an only child. I remember one day getting in the car and driving and with tears pouring down my face. I just needed to talk to someone. I ended up going to a cousin’s house and just crying on her shoulder and letting out all my emotions.

One day, my dad was complaining that he was not feeling well and he looked very weak, so I took him to Emergency. The doctor had suspected that he had probably had a heart attack. He was kept in the hospital for about a week or two. During this time my mom suffered a major stroke and was admitted to another hospital. I had both parents in two different hospitals and they both needed me!

My father was not one to stay in a hospital. He wanted to leave. They had to give him an antipsychotic drug to keep him calm. I noticed that after he was given this drug his Alzheimer’s got worse. I knew that he could no longer live alone. My plan was to take him to come and live with me once he was released from the hospital. To my surprise he did not put up a fight. God had answered my prayers!


Having my father at home eventually started to take its toll on me. I had been told at the hospital that a PSW would be assigned to come and help me out with my father, but no one came because there was a shortage of PSWs. He would not sleep in the guest room upstairs, but preferred to sleep sitting up on the couch in the family room. I could not leave him alone because I was afraid of him trying to leave the house, so I had to sleep on a second couch in the same room. Some nights he would wake me up saying that we had to go to the hospital to see my mother. He would also get up and wander around the house going through the closets and drawers.


I wasn’t getting enough sleep and I was starting to feel so anxious that I felt like I had a knot in my stomach. I could feel my blood pressure going up. I tried calling the Alzheimer`s Society to get help on how to deal with my father, but they were not always available. I was told that there were support groups that met once a month, but I needed help now. What I needed was someone who understood about Alzheimer`s to talk to whenever I was feeling stressed or overwhelmed, but no one was ever available. Not only was I dealing with my father, but during this whole time my mom was still in the hospital and I had to go and see her every day because she was not well. This situation was starting to affect my health.

I called CCAC and my father was assessed by them. I was told that if I wanted to place him in a nursing home that he would need to be placed in a secure unit that was for Alzheimer`s patients. I inquired about long term care homes and then I personally visited some of them. I wanted him to be in a place where he was treated with respect and compassion, a place that was clean, safe and that had good food. It was also important that my father be stimulated with activities and entertainment throughout the day. I required a place that was experienced in dealing with Alzheimer`s patients. I preferred a home where there were Italian speaking residents as well as staff so that my dad could communicate with them better. I gave CCAC a list of my top five choices. Because my father was considered an urgent case, he was accepted in a nursing home in less than a week. He was placed in my fifth choice nursing home, which was really the place that I liked the most and the closest one to my house, but I chose it last because I was told that there was a three year waiting list to get in. I really lucked out! A few days earlier, my mom was released from the hospital and placed at a nursing home, where her sister was. My parents were at two different nursing homes, one was in Scarborough and one was in Markham.


A man holding a cane.
My parents were at two different nursing homes, one was in Scarborough and one was in Markham.

Now that my dad had been accepted into a nursing home, my dilemma was getting my strong willed father to the nursing home and explaining to him that he had to stay there. I can`t even remember what I said to him. I just remember my husband and me taking him there and the nurse telling us that it would probably be best if my husband and I just left without saying anything to my father and that he would be fine, so we did just that.

To my surprise, my father adjusted well to his new home, even though I was not able to get him into a home that catered to Italian speaking residents. There were a few staff members that spoke Italian and were able to translate for him when needed. I liked the fact that the nursing home was next door to a hospital and within a five minute drive from my home. Two months later, to my delight, my mom was transferred to the same nursing home as my father. I would visit my parents every day because I needed to see them and also to make sure that they were being treated well. Having both my parents together and so close to home made a big difference. I was able to visit them frequently and if there were any issues with them I was able to get to them within minutes.

Living in a nursing home was not like being at home, but one thing that I liked about the place that my parent were in, is that it was small and because of that, the staff, residents and family members got to know each other and became one big family, where everyone looked out for each other and supported each other. I even got involved with the family council and eventually became the president of it. I also volunteered once a week at their caf←. It was important that I got involved so that I could keep an eye on my parents and also help to make improvements in the home where needed.

I no longer felt like my father did not belong in a nursing home, like I did on the first day when I went to see it. He had adjusted well to the environment and he was being well taken care of. I know that I had made the right decision, for him and for me and my family.

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