Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dr. Yael,

I recently took my father out of the rehab/nursing home where they told me that he broke his leg and since surgery was not an option, he will not walk again. After Medicare [that pays $900 a day] ran out, they decided to stop all physical therapy and I began to see a decline. I decided to take him to my home and evaluate him with a private physical therapist who told me that he can learn to walk again. My husband and I decided to buy a hospital bed, get as much services as possible and since he was out of the nursing home he was able to get physical and occupational therapy.


He is now walking with a walker and back at home with us where he lived before he fell and broke his leg. I called the facility to tell them this and they told me that they are currently being sued by three people who fell in the process of learning to walk so they discourage those who can’t walk from walking. This is unbelievable! We wanted to bring in private physical therapists, but they would not allow it. Although we are enraged for all the people whose children are afraid to bring them home, we understand that all these lawsuits affect the facilities. Please publish our story so other children can save their parents from decline in a facility that is afraid to encourage their elderly to achieve maximum functioning.

A Reader


Dear A Reader,

Thank you for writing this very special letter. Unfortunately, American society does not treat our seniors very well. Even in the hospitals, the elderly are often neglected since the focus of our society is on youth. It is imperative that elderly people have an advocate when they are in a hospital or in rehab/nursing home facilities. I must commend you on the outstanding chesed that you did and are doing for your father. You have enhanced the quality of his life and have likely given him a chance to have a better prognosis. Unfortunately, seniors are often seen as a burden and proper care is not given to our seniors.

The other serious issue is that America is a society where lawsuits are rampant. Therefore, it often frightens facilities, which doesn’t allow them to do the right thing. Anybody can sue for anything, and there are fraudulent people who try to create lawsuits from injuries that are not truly anyone’s fault. These lawsuits are likely forcing facilities to make blanket rules and policies, which can be a detriment to many of the patients.

It is terrifying to see our parents age. We want our parents to age because that means we have them for longer. It is so special to have the zechus to have parents, but it is difficult to know what to do when we are faced with challenging decisions. When parents age, the roles tend to get reversed, and this is very difficult for many people. Most people have a hard time parenting their parents because it is uncomfortable and not the natural way of how things should be. It is also very challenging to balance the role of giving our parents autonomy and independence and taking good care of them.

Once parents start to make bad decisions because their memory is declining, we often have to make decisions for them, which is when things start getting very tricky. The key to trying to do this is to always speak calmly and respectfully to your parents. This is not an easy thing to do, especially when their memory is declining, but staying calm and using some humor can really help to smooth out many difficult situations. Instead of letting yourself get frustrated with your parent(s), try to keep yourself calm and speak in a soft and loving tone. Most parents will not get upset or feel slighted if you speak to them this way. Even if you’re upset about something, you can try to share how you feel in a loving and calm tone. Anxiety will often exacerbate any situation, so staying calm and speaking nicely will help most of the time.

Thank you for writing this letter and helping others understand what may be going on in various facilities. Hatzlacha in helping your father regain his strength and ability to walk! May this be a huge zechus for you and your family!

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to [email protected]. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at