What if I do not want to go to a nursing home?

Except for a possible temporary placement in an emergency situation, you don’t have to go into a nursing home if you don’t want to as long as you are able to care for yourself or arrange for your own care. If you are unable to take care of yourself or to arrange for care, then you could be forced into a nursing home by a court.

This could only happen if someone, such as a relative or a social worker, goes to court and asks to be appointed conservator (or guardian) of you. In order to do this, the person has to show that you are unable to care for yourself or to make decisions about your care and that your self-neglect would be dangerous to your health and well-being. If you want to oppose such a request, you can ask for a trial. In most states, if you can’t afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you to help you oppose the request for a conservatorship or guardianship. Many areas have elder advocates who can help you as well.

There are quite a few programs that provide care for seniors who remain living at home. There are meals programs, transportation programs, and adult day care programs where you can go to socialize and receive care during the day. If you are having difficulty caring for yourself, but want to stay at home, contact senior advocates to find out what programs are available in your area. There may also be other options, such as group homes, where you can receive more care but have more freedom than in a nursing home. If you can show that you are being cared for, no one can force you into a nursing home.

The best way to avoid the threat of a nursing home is to plan your estate to cover the possibility that you will need extra care in the future. If you set up a living trust, for example, place your assets in it, and then name someone you trust to be your Trustee if you no longer can, then your Trustee will pay for your care and services out of the trust assets in the way you have specified in the trust documents. You would not be placed in a nursing home under those circumstances unless you needed skilled nursing care and your estate could not afford to pay for skilled nursing services at home.