A move into a nursing home is perhaps one of life’s most stressful events. After all, a transition into a nursing home not only accompanies major changes in every feasible aspect of the person’s life: environment, schedule, people— and yes, the realization that things will never go back to the way things were.
If the stress on the nursing home patient wins first prize, the stress put upon the family must be a close second! Feelings of guilt abound out of the fact that some family may feel inadequate about their inability to care for a parent or grandparent under their own roof. Additionally, in today’s troubled economy, many families are further burdened with the extraordinary bills that accompany many living arrangements like nursing homes and assisted living.
Understanding that much of the stress associated with a nursing home move comes with the territory is an important initial step for families. Additionally, here are some great stress reducers as proposed by Hanns Pieper, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of Evansville:
- Take parents concerns and questions seriously. Recognize that a transition to a nursing home is a big deal.
- Get you parent in touch with the residents’ council at the nursing home, this will help if issues arise after they move in.
- Help your parent navigate the facility. Take them on a walk and show them where important areas are: bathrooms, cafeteria, activity rooms
- Establish a regular visiting schedule early on. This will help bring some predictability into your parent’s life.
- Keep your visiting schedule.
- Encourage your parent to be as active as they are comfortable with— and no more. Do not make them feel guilty for not engaging in activities
- Be an advocate for your parent
As a nursing home lawyer who frequently sees problems after they develop, I can attest to the importance of advocating for family and friends. Too often I see family intimidated because they may lack medical or nursing experience. Don’t be!
As an advocate, all you need is your good sense. If something doesn’t look or sound right– its probably not! Catching a problem in the early on will not only demonstrate to the staff that mistakes are not acceptable, but will also ensure that your parents will remain as vigorous as possible as long as feasible.