Would you put a mentally challenged person into a group home?

United States
October 2, 2008 8:19pm CST
I have a mentally challenged sister who is nearing 40 years old. My dad is 71 and my mom is 59. My sister throws temper tantrums that consist of constant screaming about the most random things and chucking objects at everyone, usually I am the target if I am in the room. So far this week she has had three outrageous fits. I've gotten hit with an ashtray, kicked in the side, kicked in the throat, had a full glass of iced tea thrown at me, and she tried to pick up a glass end table and throw it at me but it was attached to our swing outside. We recently changed her workshop and she hates it there because no one gives into her. She is used to being babied by my mom and she throws fits because we stopped letting her have her way all the time. She went to her workshop this week and they sent her home because she was rolling around on the ground screaming and kicking like a child. One time, we had the cops called on us because the neighbors thought we were abusing her. My parents are considering putting her into a group home because they can no longer handle her. She cannot bathe herself, she is too lazy to change her own clothes, and will not take action to do anything unless she absolutely has to. However, there is much controversy about it because it is their daughter and it would really hurt her feelings. I guess what I'm asking is would you do it under these circumstances and why or why not?
3 people like this
17 responses
@grammasnook (1881)
• United States
3 Oct 08
I am a residential manager of a mentally challenged home. It is usually harder on the parents than on the child believe it or not. The one thing that I would recommned that if this decision is made that there should be lots of visits and phone calls so each of them feel safe with the decision. Make sure the group home you put her in can handle her specific needs. When guardians are unable to provide a safe environment for themselves or the individual it is thier responsibility to find a safe place for her. May I ask what her illness is? Sometimes meds have to be changed because they become immune to them and other times they get frustrated because they are not understood. As for the workshop sending her home that is absolutely rediculous it is there job to handle these things. They should be trained to do so. I would definately think about getting her out of that particular workshop if they can not handle her.
2 people like this
• United States
3 Oct 08
She does not take any medication. She is mentally incapable of speaking more than 4 or so words in a sentence, had a heart murmer when she was young, had problems walking (hips) and we arent exactly sure what the illness is. My mom's sister had german measles when my mom was pregnant with my sister and that is how she got this way. She has the mind of a 6 year old. She used to attend a work shop where they taught her a lot of stuff...she was writing her name, she knew sign language, she used to pack away sponges and get paid by the piece...she liked it there. But we found out after TEN years that they stopped teaching and it became a babysitting place. No one bothered to tell us anything, so now she is just lazy. She gets paid by the piece where she is at now but only makes about $.16 in a paycheck because she refuses to do anything, but still I think that's pretty low.
@sharra1 (6344)
• Australia
3 Oct 08
I think you are being unfair to say she is too lazy to do something. Her mind is not functioning in what we would consider normal. Has she had professional assessment from psychiatrists? You talk about her acting like a child but she sounds mentally ill and the definition of child and lazy do not apply. The problem is that putting someone into a home is a problem. Just as with aged people, homes are not nice places and do not care well for people so you cannot handle her behavior and if it was my decision then yes I would do so as I know I could not handle her behavior. It does not mean I would not feel guilty about it but I know my own short comings.
1 person likes this
@sharra1 (6344)
• Australia
4 Oct 08
In light of what you both have said I can see that she probably would be better off in a home. I think your parents are amazing that they are still looking after her. I am not sure I could. Maybe in a good home she might learn to do some things for herself instead of being so dependent. I do not know much about this issue but at 40 she would be a real challenge if she is the same as a 6 year old.
1 person likes this
• United States
4 Oct 08
Many group homes are very nice places. Maybe you have not been to many group homes for the mentally disabled. I have worked in some, and found them quite nice. They are like family settings. In one that I worked in, the residents had their own rooms. In the other, two residents shared a room. There was a living room, and a kitchen where the residents helped prepare meals. The homes were in nice neighborhoods. They were very nice places. Kelly
2 people like this
• United States
3 Oct 08
I don't think I'm being unfair because these are things she used to do but now she would rather kick and scream and say "NO I WONT!" For example, she knows how to make her own chocolate milk but she won't. She would rather say "daaaaaaaaaaddddddy chocolate milk!" And throw a tantrum when she doesn't get it. She knew how to write her name and do sign language and a lot of other things but if you give her a pen now she will just throw it. The reason I compared her to a child is because doctors told us specificially that she has the mentality of a 6 year old. She has never been to a psychiatrist because they will not let her into the practice. Same as with dentists, for whatever reason we haven't been able to find one that can, plus the psychiatrist would only tell us that she is mentally handicapped, which is what we already know.
1 person likes this
@drakesuyat (1064)
• Philippines
3 Oct 08
i wont. i have a special child and shes only 5yrs old now. im so attached to her that i dont think i can let her go with all that group home thing. i may have spoken too early coz shes still young but i believe shes my responsibility and it would really hurt my feelings if i wont be with her most of the time. thanks so much for sharing your experience coz it will make me search on things to anticipate such tantrums. :-)
@annjilena (5621)
• United States
3 Oct 08
don,t be mad at mom and dad they are getting of age and not as strong as they use to be to care for your sister, that don,t mean they don,t love her it,s just hard to deal with the age they are now.my brother, is mentally challenge he has schinphinza and he has to have a shot once a month he talks to himself and he do everything he told not to do. he also tried to burned my sister and brother up in the house because he smokes after we have told him not to smoke in the house he did any way.he see,s demons he jumped out a car going 75 miles per hour and took all the skin off his back.i tried putting him in his own apartment with his mind the way it is people moved in and ate up his food use his power took stone cold advantage of him he felt he was doing the right thing he could not think people was using him so now we care for him ,he lives with one of my sisters and we make sure no one uses him again because of his mental ability. it,s hard caring for a mentally challenge person they don,t understand maybe you can care for her, if mom and dad can,t anymore it,s not easy at all.
• United States
3 Oct 08
I know for a fact I am not able to care for her. I cannot change her during her menstrual period like my mom does, I am not willing to bathe her. It is not the type of person I am. I could take care of a child and if my own child were like that I would but I can't just take care of a 40 year old woman who needs all of that done. It takes a certain type of personality to be able to do that and I am too weak for it. Besides that, my sister hates me. I have always been the person she would attack, even if my other sister said something to poke fun at her for whatever reason she would run across the other side of the room to hit me. She is uncontrollable and I am not able to handle that much stress, I can barely live with her now. I have a friend who is skizophrenic so I know what you mean. She tends to tell herself some lies that she really honestly believes and then it makes her even worse.
@JoyfulOne (6243)
• United States
3 Oct 08
First, I should let you know where I'm 'coming from'....one of my male relatives is mentally challenged, I also worked in a group home for a good while too. When the time comes that the parents can no longer take care of them, and especially when the parents are older, then it should be considered a blessing to send them into a group home without guilt. The relative that I have has been in a group home since he was around 45. He has learned to control himself better, the temper, etc, since being there! At the group home, there is somebody that's NOT a parent setting the rules, and not putting up with the tempers etc. Sometimes they behave better at the group home than at home, especially if they knew that they could get away with something at home without consequences. Also, if she's throwing things at you now, then it will quite possibly escalate to where she starts doing that to your parents. At their age they deserve to finish their years without fear for their safety, as well as hers. What I'm trying to say is that they have obviously been totally devoted to her throughout all those years, and they deserve a little peace. That's not to say that once she's in a group home she can't go home for the weekend, attend a family birthday party (whatever) or have your parents take her out to McDonalds for the afternoon or something. Since my relatives have already been in this situation, I feel comfortable saying that it was a good choice all the way around. He now goes to workshop, and if there's a family function coming up and he's misbehaved, the staff tells him he cannot go. Yes, it's hard, but if the ball doesn't get rolling now, then it will only get harder the older she gets. Harder on your parents to let go, and harder on your sister too. At least in a home she would have her daily needs taken care of. Since your parents are only going to get older, this will be harder on their mind, spirit and body tending to her daily needs day in and day out. Think of it not as turning your back on a loved one, think of it as helping them grow. There's a better than good chance that once moved in that your sister would actually LIKE where she is at. Sure, she might have a little hurt feelings in the beginning, but she will probably get over them. The group home I worked in...the residents ALL loved living there. They formed friendships, we took them places (movies, out to lunch, out shopping, etc), and each and everyone there had their birthday celebrated. As staff, we learned what worked on who's behavioural problems, and for the most part, we didn't really have the problems. (And these residents were moderate to severely challenged) They learned rules and limits, and learned how to treat others (no throwing, hitting, etc.) Just like a child (in an adult body) once they have regular rules and learn to live with them, they do better. I think the problem she had at workshop is probably because she's getting mixed messages...'at home I can get away with that, and here I can't' "if I throw a tantrum, they'll probably give in too'. Just my opinion, but I think having consistant rules, as would be given in a group home would be a tremendous help. I know I wrote a lot, but we've been there before. I'm happy to say my relative is a changed (for the better) guy since he's been there. I wish you and your parents well through this difficult decision!
1 person likes this
• United States
3 Oct 08
Wonderfully written!! I would have a concern if your sister does not speak more than 4 words at a time. First you have to rule out all possibly medical conditions and without being able to speak then just perhaps a brain scan is in order to make sure she is at a certain baseline. Are we sure that she has gotten lazy or perhaps she has lost the ability to remember. This is only a precaution that I would take to make sure that an early onset of dimensia is not there. If she was exposed to the german measels while in your mothers womb. Dimensia is a disease is brought on by illness or serious injury. It does not hurt to check. A lot of individuals that enter into a group home setting blossom and adjust quite well. We are trained that although most have the mentality of a child, they deserve the respect as an adult. They have every human right that you and I have.
@palonghorn (5492)
• United States
3 Oct 08
After reading your discussion, sounds like this needed to be dealt with years ago, seeing how she is 40. I do think it would be the best thing for all involved. I didn't say it would be the easiest, but with your parents getting older, I think it would be the best thing. Yes, it may well hurt her feelings, and she won't like not getting her way, or being 'babied'. But, the people in charge of such facilities are more equipped to handle people like your sister. It could turn out to be the best thing to do for her, she might even improve somewhat, at least learn to take care of herself more. And why wait, until she does seriously hurt one of your parents or you?
1 person likes this
@soooobored (1187)
• United States
3 Oct 08
I don't have any experience with a family member with a developmental disability (that's probably a whole other ball game!) but I have worked with a lot of developmentally disabled adolescents and adults. I think that a group home might be good for her, even if she's not able to comprehend 100% she certainly knows she's different. It could be good for her to spend more time around others (besides just day workshops, etc). More importantly, your parents are going to have to let go a little, as they won't be able to continue forever... it sounds like eventually she will need to go either to a group home, or have a live-in assistant. Is that going to get any easier as time goes by? Nothing is permanent, if she goes to a group home and in, say, 6 months everyone is unhappy, your parents can look at other options. But it sounds like it could be good for her, from your post it sounds like she is capable of doing more than she is. Given the independence, she might just start doing these things for herself.
1 person likes this
@mimico (3619)
• Philippines
3 Oct 08
I'd put her in a group home. That way, she;ll receive better care. Your parents aren't young anymore they might fall down and break their bones while caring for her if your sister throws another tantrum. It's really difficult to part with a family member, but at this stage I think letting her go would be a win-win situation for everyone. If your family can afford the cost then it's really better if she's surrounded by other people. That way she will be given better care and attention and at the same time, learn to socialize.
1 person likes this
@seeths (413)
3 Oct 08
It actually depends on the siyuation and now a days life styles are changing above all in ur case ur parents are getting old and now they also need to be taken care and sometimes we need to take hard decisions.It is kind of difficult and hard feelings for them but them we have to look at the future aspect of the side. Regards
1 person likes this
@psspurgeon1 (1110)
• United States
3 Oct 08
Thinking of my own children while giving this opinion, if things got so out of control to where someone in the home was not physically safe, I would say yes. From what I gather, she is a danger to others and hygenically at least to herself. I can definitly understand the feelings of "turning your back" on your child, it would hurt a lot but there are situations that warrent outside help and this seems to be one of them. Your parents deserve some time to enjoy themselves as they are not getting any younger. Your sister may even benifit from being forced to take more responsibility for herself and also by not having someone around at all times that is emotionally attached to her that would condone or allow such behavior.
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Apr 11
my siste is about the sae as your sistr xcpt she cn do for her self She was a patient at Brookhaven in New York, but he weiht has nt come ff hr like it should. And as your parents - mine s older and gatting so we as sibling now have to step in. I am not sure how ts works - but she has to go into a group home. My brother and I have families and she os overly obese and can't walk upstairs, and that leave us out because of the stairs in private homes. so we have no choice but to do the same thing. but the kicker is we have to get guardianship over her becaus she an adult, and our mother didn't do it. so i sympathize with you, and i am leaning as well. All we have is thelove and strength of our Lord and Saviour and he will see all of us thru it.
• United States
16 Feb 09
I am a grandmother with a situation simular to yours. My grandson is out of control everytime he doesn't get his way. I usually just let him do what he wants so I don't have to deal with him I am getting worried about him. He is 20 years old and I am afraid for my self and others. He has punched my daughter in the throat and could have killed her. He goes crazy and there isn't any way to stop him in his rage. Even though he is small he is very strong and I am afraid of him. He always says he sorry but he just goes on like he hasn't done a thing. I was looking on the internet for some help in my situation when I came across this story. Yes it would be okay to put your sister in a group home. They are trained to deal with anger and know how to control them. I am looking for a group home for my grandson. You will still be part of her life. she can still come home for visits and go on family outings. Good luck. A frustrated Grandmother in Oklahoma.
@srik11 (483)
• India
9 Oct 08
phew .. i cannot even dare to imagine myself in such situation...being a mental retard is a hell of a thing but watching a retard so closely as you are is most challenging .. i feel helpless to be in such a postion... i dont much to say this but to feel sorry for you..
@belk89 (1105)
• Philippines
3 Oct 08
Yes i would do it under that circumstances. She is getting violent and your parents cannot control her anymore. They are too old to handle her and she is already hurting you too. It is best for her to stay in a place where she is taken care of and safe. It is painful to see our love ones put on group homes but sometimes we also have to take into consideration our safety and your parents safety as well.
@whywiki (6071)
• Canada
3 Oct 08
I would do it in a heartbeat. Your parents need a life of there own and so does your sister. I think in a group home they would have the right tools to help her and to make her feel like a productive independent person. I think it is time your parents got to enjoy their later years. They put there heart and soul into your sister for 40 years, now it is time for them to enjoy each other.
@momathome (476)
• Canada
3 Oct 08
Since your parents are getting up there in age it would probably be the best thing for everyone to put her in a group home. If I was in this situation that is where I would put her. She could seriously hurt your parents oneday and than what would happen? She needs to be with people that can manage her and help her. It's sad to have to place her in a home but that would be the best thing for her.
@douchrti (178)
• United States
3 Oct 08
Hi deemazing, My son is mentally disabled, with Smith Lemli Opitz syndrome. Hes 29 and I had to put him in a group home 8 yrs ago. It was hard for me, made me feel like I had failed as a Dad. But I needed to keep my job which has me out of town 4 nites a week. Dan has fits of self abuse and requires meds to keep him manageable. Dan needs to be with others, granted that some of the others at his home can cause disruptions and make being there no fun. But I need time away from him for my life. And he needs a social like, whatever form it may be. His staff at his home is the best and Im lucky in that aspect. But all this being said, it tears me up when I have to take him back and I know he'd rather be home where he's comfy and relaxed. Sigh, Hugs.