I think we need to be looking at the bigger picture here. Whether you decide to sacrifice for your parents the way they sacriced for you (a noble sentiment, and one I applaud) or acknowledge that some people need 24 hour medical attention and sometimes a nursing home is the only way to provide it (also an excellent point, one I can't argue with) the fact remains that there are a large number of elderly and severely disabled people, yes, even in North America, with no one to adequately care for them.

I have to disagree with whizkid on this point: Old age homes do exist. I've been to them. They can be every bit as bad as the worst TV exposes have led you to believe. They are underfunded, routinely ignored by state health inspectors, the people in them have been known to literally starve to death because the overworked, underpaid and unqualified staff forget to feed them, and they do contain people who do not need 24-hour medical support, but medicare in many states won't cover home visits while it will cover nursing home care.*

I'm not saying that all nursing homes are like this. Some, like the places whizkid and Segnbora-t mention, provide quality care and life-affirming companionship. But the hell-holes do exist and they are filled with the poor, the family-less and the forgotten.

I hate to jump up on my same old soap box, but we need universal healthcare NOW. The decision of where your aging parents should live is a painful and deeply personal one, but the decision that no one in our society should be abused and that everyone should have a little human dignity is going to take a massive group effort. If you aren't willing to send your parents there, you shouldn't be willing to send anyone else there, either.

* This makes me so mad I could just spit. Medicare won't pay a nurse $20 / hour to come over to my grandmother's house once a day to give her an IV, but they will pay to put her in a home, which must cost at least hundreds per day. Of course we just paid for the nurse out of pocket, but what about people who can't afford that?