It was the hardest decision of my life. Was now the time to put my mother in a nursing home?

My mother, at 83, is fiercely independent and lives on her own. Unfortunately she is becoming more and more confused due to Alzheimers. After the low score on her last geriatric evaluation, the doctor told me that she could no longer safely live alone but, as her legal guardian, the decision was mine. If I left her where she was, I was taking a risk.

The doctor’s recommendation shook me up because I’d assumed that my mother could stay at least another year in her apartment. I had to admit, though, that her judgment and memory had worsened in the last few months. The thought of moving her against her wishes filled me with distress – but a choice had to be made.

I did a number of exercises to consult my intuition.

I am sure that many of you have difficult decisions to make sometimes, and you too may be torn by emotion. I am sharing my process with you, with this particular example, so that you can tell if you are doing what is right for you and all concerned.

Two steps should be taken BEFORE consulting your intuition:

(i) Get External Feedback
Before consulting my intuition, I got feedback from people in the know (doctor, social worker, Alzheimers Society) and asked about other cases. The consensus was that families tend to make this decision too late, after a catastrophe occurs (the person gets lost outside, starts a fire, etc.)

(ii) Distinguishing Intuition from Other Voices
In Developing Intuition, Shakti Gawain points out that we have other thoughts and feelings that can drown out the quiet voice of intuition. How do we tell them apart? The first step is to recognize the qualities and energies we most identify with. These could be: logical self, vulnerable child, angry self, risk taker, creative voice, intuitive voice.

Write your question in the center of a blank page and then on the right-hand side consult each of these voices. Go clockwise, and end with your intuitive voice.

In my example, my question (in the center of the page) was: “Should I let her stay on her own?”

- My logical voice said, “She will only get worse. You have no way of knowing how she will deteriorate or what she may do.”

- Vulnerable child: “I know she wants me to let her stay! But what if something awful happens?”

- Risk taker: “A real gamble – only you are playing with human lives.”

- Creative voice: “There are pros and cons – but this is a slippery
path. I cannot create with all the stress.”

- And, finally, my intuitive voice said, “Take the experts’ opinions seriously – they know the dangers. Stop blaming yourself for doing what is necessary. Be there to comfort her.”

Ask Your Intuition:

1. Left Hand/Right Hand
In this exercise, you use your right hand (left brain) to ask the question in writing. You then hold the pen in your left hand (if you’re right-handed) and write an answer. The left hand is associated with your right brain and will give you an intuitive response, often short and to the point.

My example: With my right hand, I wrote, “Mother wants to stay on her own a little longer. Is this dangerous?” With my left hand came the answer, “Use your judgment. She cannot judge.”

2. Quick Hit Technique
Laura Day explains this technique in Practical Intuition. You ask the question, trust that you have the answer, and shut your eyes. Keep the question in mind. Then look up and see what you notice.

My example: I asked, “Is this the right time to move mother to a nursing home?” I was at a bus stop when I closed my eyes. I opened them and immediately noticed two people across the street moving forward.

3. Exploring Different Avenues
This exercise helps you get in touch with your body’s reaction, as explained in The Intuitive Way by Penney Peirce. Close your eyes and feel your need to solve the problem. For each potential course of action, visualize yourself living the solution. Determine how your body feels in this situation. Any tension anywhere? Heaviness? Or do you feel expansion? Now, project this situation six months into the future. How do you feel now? How about in one year? Repeat the exercise for each of your potential courses of action.

My example: When I explored keeping her on her own, I saw her being really disoriented and making messes. I was totally stressed. When I pictured moving her now to a nursing home, I saw her putting up a fuss in the beginning but later calming down. I felt relaxed.

4. Juggling Two Balls
Visualize yourself holding two balls in your hands – representing your choices. Which feels lighter? Which feels heavy? When you think of each choice, which one feels easy and light? For which do you feel a tightness or resistance? Your best choice is always the lighter one.

My example: one ball was keeping her on her own, the other moving her. The second ball felt lighter.

After doing all these exercises, there is no doubt in my mind that I must take steps
to move my mother into a nursing home without further delay.

These techniques can be used for any decision in your life, big or small. I recommend
that you test them on smaller decisions and then move on to the more difficult issues
you are facing.

I have used them successfully myself a number of times. My clients also
tell me that they are able to get immediate answers for themselves, though some
exercises often work better for them than others.

Good luck!

Author's Bio: 

Thelma Mariano, life coach and author, is dedicated to bringing clarity and direction to people’s lives. See her on-line coaching programs, articles and column at or her blog “Right Here, Right Now” at