The effects on adult children of placing a parent in a nursing home

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


This research investigated selected aspects of the effects on adult children of placing a parent in a nursing home; specifically, the ease of placement, change in parent-child relationships, and effects on the personal life of the adult child as perceived by the child. Scales constructed for use in measuring these dependent and several independent variables in an original study were revised on the basis of factor analysis, internal consistency analysis and subjective judgement. The revision of the scales was based on the original study's data. The revised scales were included in a shorter, more focused questionnaire utilized in the present study. Results of the original study and evidence from existing literature formed a basis for hypotheses tested in the present study. Revised questionnaires were mailed to 175 adult children listed as guarantors of patients in seven nursing homes. A 66.9% usable response rate was obtained. Stepwise regression was utilized to test the hypotheses.

The results indicated that the more concerned the child was about the parent's placement and the less the child favored the placement, the more difficult it was for the child to carry out the decision to place his or her parent. The placement of a parent did not appear to be accompanied by deterioration of the parent-child relationship. Rather, it tends to either remain the same or improve. Those children who are most likely to have perceived positive change in the relationship were those who had more concerns about the parent being in a nursing home, had younger parents, saw their parent as making a good adjustment to being in a nursing home, and did not view their own aging positively. None of the independent variables were significant predictors of perceived effects on the personal life of the adult child.

Support for potential positive changes in parent-child relationships as a result of a parent being placed in a nursing home was discussed. Recommendations for further research utilizing the family theory framework of Bowen (1978) was presented.