For a while, your loved one has been growing steadily worse. They are constantly fatigued. Their house is a mess. They need help standing up. Instead of going out, they spend their days shut up indoors. Now they are losing weight and becoming forgetful. Bills are piling up, unpaid. They cannot follow old recipes anymore. When you talk, they repeat the same question over and over. It is clear they cannot look after themselves anymore. They need full-time care, more than you and your family can provide. So you have decided that it is time to move them into a nursing home facility.
Surprisingly, transitioning to a nursing home is often more stressful for the family than the resident. They are afraid their loved one will be upset moving into an unfamiliar space. However, once they have unpacked their belongings, most residents adjust quickly. Living side-by-side with regular caregivers ensures their needs are met in a prompt and agreeable manner. The size of the home helps enormously. Larger assisted living facilities have more amenities, but their size means they cannot provide a strong care ratio, while a care home can.
Whether the home is big or small, it is the family’s attitude that makes the biggest impact. By supporting the process, they make change a positive experience.
Residents do not need to bring much with them when they move into a nursing home facility. Families often think of care homes as retirement communities, but the two are not the same. Moving into a retirement community is like moving into an apartment, where residents must bring their own furniture. Intimate care homes are fully furnished. Residents will find beds, chairs, and dressers waiting in their rooms. Families can bring their own furniture if they like, but unless it has some personal value (a favorite chair, for example) it is generally best to leave it behind.
Nursing home facilities do laundry every day, so patients do not need many clothes. What they bring should be comfortable and easy to wear. To help preserve their abilities, staff encourages residents to do as much as they can for themselves. Therefore, they recommend simple clothing that does not take many steps to put on, slippers or pants with elastic waistbands, for instance.
However, do not pack an outfit without asking the resident to try it on first. In many cases, they will have lost or gained weight because of their condition. Before deciding what to bring, go through their wardrobe and make sure what they have fits them.
The nursing home facility will provide bedsheets, blankets, pillows, and toiletries (soap, shampoo, shaving cream, toothpaste, etc.) However, if there is a particular brand they enjoy, bring it along. More importantly, inform the staff so they can add it to the weekly shopping list.
Residents are encouraged to decorate their rooms. A nursing home facility is not a hospital, it is a home. Paintings, pictures, pillows, trophies, figurines, house plants – anything that adds personality to the room will make the resident more comfortable. It also sparks conversations with other residents and staff. Getting to know their housemates helps them adjust faster and leads to finer care. The more staff members understand your loved one, the better they can respond to their needs.
Because a nursing home facility is set up to provide both senior care and memory care, they are typically small. Verona Court, for example, has no more than six people living at its locations. Televisions are found in the common areas and shared by the residents. If a resident prefers to relax in their room, they can bring along a radio, music player, smartphone, or computer tablet. However, private TVs are discouraged.
Most entertainment is provided by the staff. They plan activities to keep residents from growing bored and listless. Arts and crafts are popular; so is music. Nothing is mandatory though. Residents are free to join whatever activity they like. The staff always does its best to find something for each of the residents to enjoy, so it is not unusual for several activities to be going on at once.
Most residents do well their first night. Usually, residents sleep soundly, but if they are restless, it may cause some difficulty. In these situations, the family might have to pay for an extra caregiver to help their loved one for a few days until they get settled.
For most families, the hardest part is saying goodbye. Families often feel guilty for asking a nursing home facility to take care of their loved one. However, putting their loved one in a supportive environment is the best thing for them. Care homes give residents the attention they need to remain happy and healthy. At Verona Court, the administrators are trained nurses with over 20 years of experience in geriatric care. They understand the disease process and ensure doctors are kept fully aware of the residents’ condition. If a problem develops, the doctor is prepared to step in right away. Families can call 24-hours a day with their concerns and the staff always reaches out to let them know how their loved one is doing.
With that in mind, the best advice for families is to stay upbeat when saying goodbye. Because it is such a personal moment, there is no set of words that will work in every situation. Families know their loved ones best and what will comfort them on their first night.
Few seniors are excited about leaving their home, even if they are struggling to take care of themselves. Their children are usually reluctant to broach the topic, even though they can see the warning signs starting to mount.
However, the truth is that when a person’s home can no longer support them, the best thing to do is move them into someplace that can. A nursing home facility cares for residents the way a family would. Residents are surrounded by an attentive staff who understand their needs. Living together with seniors gives them more chances to socialize. And best of all, families can visit every day.
Lewis Jackson writes about technology and healthcare. His work provides practical insight into modern medicine and healthy living.