Is it wrong for a Christian to put a loved one in an assisted living or nursing home?


Many families face difficult decisions when it comes to the care of aged loved ones. When elderly people reach advanced age, their safety and medical needs may be beyond the ability of their family to provide for in home-care. This creates a very painful situation.

Many elderly people, though not all, feel much more at home and comfortable with loved ones than in a health care facility. Accusations of abandonment and lack of love are not uncommon when the possibility of assisted living or a nursing facility is mentioned.

The Bible is clear that families have a serious responsibility to care for the elderly members of the family. Support for this comes from the commandment to honor one’s father and mother, as well as from the New Testament emphasis on children and grandchildren affirming their faith by providing for their loved ones (1 Timothy 5:3-8).

How to best do this, however, can be puzzling and painful. There are personal preferences, care requirements, finances, and other issues for both the elderly person and the care-giving family to consider.

Some families will choose to fulfill their responsibilities by caring for a loved one at home personally or with the assistance of home-care specialists, while others will arrange for care in an assisted living or nursing facility. If a loved one chooses or requires living arrangements outside of the family home, it is very important for the family to monitor the situation closely, to call regularly, and to faithfully attend to the incidental needs of their aged loved one.

Old age can be a frightening and lonely experience. The assurance of God’s love and salvation, along with the care and love of family and friends, can mean everything to an elderly and infirm person.

The National Council on Aging has several publications on topics relevant to the care of our aging loved ones. You may contact them by writing to the National Council on Aging, 1901 L Street NW, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20036; phone: (202) 479-1200; fax: (202) 479-0735.