If your elderly loved one wants out of the nursing home, they won’t simply be allowed to walk out the front door.
The residents of skilled nursing facilities are considered to be medical patients while they are residents of the home.
Because of this, they must follow certain procedures to leave just as any patient would have to leave “against medical orders.”
In addition to this, patients in nursing homes may have appointed a family member to make decisions on their behalf, which is known as giving them “power of attorney.”
If you, or another family member, has power of attorney over a parent in a nursing home, they would not be able to check themselves out without your expressed consent.
What we think of as the typical nursing home model is changing, and many people are now able to return back to their homes or the home of a family member once their health needs have been met.
However, you may not be able to meet your aging parent’s needs due to your own work and family obligations. This is when things can get tricky.
Why Does Your Loved One Want to Leave?
It’s important to find out the truth behind why your loved one wants to leave the home. They may want to leave because they are lonely, they want to live with family, or simply because they hate the food.
However, the reason they want to leave could be nursing home neglect or abuse that they are too embarrassed to tell you about.
Lawyers specializing in nursing home neglect have described a rise in nursing home abuse and neglect cases due to the large number of elderly individuals in the United States. By 2050, approximately 20% of the population will be 65 and older.
With that will come an increase in health issues and abuse cases.
If your elderly family member is evasive when you ask questions about why they leave, it’s time to begin looking for signs of nursing home abuse.
These can include but are not limited to:
- Changes in behavior
- Bruises, broken bones, or contusions
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Refusal to speak in front of staff members
- Unsanitary conditions
- Wandering or elopement
Let your loved one know that it is safe to tell you the truth and they will not suffer any negative consequences if they admit they are being mistreated.
If abuse is happening, file an official report with the facility and with your state’s monitoring organizations.
The “Money Follows the Person” Program
If you’d like your elderly relative to be able to leave the nursing home but money is an issue, help may be available.
For example, since 2007, the California Department of Health Care Services has had grant funding for the California Community Transitions program, which is also known as the Money Follows the Person program. This program offers transition services for seniors who want to leave care and return to their families.
To date, this program has overseen approximately 17,000 moves from skilled nursing facilities back into the community.
Contact your local department of health care service to see if your area has a similar program.
Can You Stop Someone From Checking Themselves Out?
Unless your loved one has been declared physically or mentally incompetent or you have power of attorney, you may not be able to stop them from checking themselves out of a home.
In these circumstances, your best bet may be to try to get the facility or an attorney on your side.
If you can’t care for your elderly family member and leaving the facility may leave them homeless and vulnerable, your lawyer can look into the laws and tell you more about your options.