Whether it is a parent, spouse or close friend or family member, deciding to move them into a nursing home can be an emotional one.
Not-so-pleasant stories of nursing home care coupled with the increased desire to age in one’s own home have made even saying the words ‘nursing home’ somewhat of a bad thing.
I have worked in a nursing home for over 10 years and can speak to both the upsides and downsides of living in one – or at least my perspective from listening to those who do. By far the greatest struggle was not from the individual making the move, but from their family members.
Move-in day is a hectic time and typically follows a significant event that led to making the move in the first place. Family members are diligently focused on the tasks at hand as the new professional caregivers jump in and take over care.
This transfer of responsibility is not easy, and most family members fear that the disruption in routine will negatively affect their loved one.
No doubt, you were assuming some role in your loved one’s care before the move, and giving up that role can leave you feeling a bit guilty. While your feelings are entirely understandable, there isn’t a reason to feel that way. You have made the best decision for both you and your loved one.
Family caregivers are often put into impossible situations when it comes to providing care. Whether it be getting dressed, bathed and fed, or assuming the responsibility of medication management and transportation to doctor’s appointments, the needs are demanding. Undoubtedly, they disrupt any sense of normalcy within a daily routine.
So, if you have already made the decision, or you are struggling with the decision, to move your loved one into a nursing home, here are four reasons why the move isn’t all that bad!
Too often, a family caregiver becomes involved in every aspect of their loved one’s life and care. Even if you share the best of relationships, too much time and interaction with one another can be exhausting. It also leaves very little time for the person in need of care to have time to themselves.
While the adjustment may be difficult, you will find that your loved one has more independence in a nursing home than they would living in their own house. The very design of a care unit is built for the evolving needs of an older adult and will allow them to move about more freely than they can at home.
Nursing home residents also have federal and state rights, known as Resident’s Rights. Residents have the right to choose their schedule, which means they can decide when they want to eat, sleep or get up!
This type of independence is often lost while living with or working with a family caregiver because they are no doubt on a schedule to keep up with their own to-do’s!
The Activities Department in a nursing home is one of the best services for your family member or close loved one. Every day there are a variety of things to do that will allow your loved one to reconnect with their favorite past-times, exercise or even learn something new!
The Activity Department will provide you and your loved one with a monthly calendar, so you can choose which activities you think you’d like to go to and will even assess your loved one’s interest to ensure they don’t miss out on events of interest.
You can join in on the fun, too! I always love when family members join in on the day’s activity. Whether it’s baking, trivia or exercise, your loved one will be sure to come out and join if they know you want to be involved, too!
From a more medical perspective, research suggests that social isolation is a contributing risk factor of dementia. Many professionals in the field believe that nursing homes are the best way to prevent social isolation in older adults.
While I’ve never personally witnessed anything too alarming happen in a nursing home, that is not to say it can’t happen. The best way to ensure that your loved one is getting the expert and excellent care that they deserve is to remain active in their care.
Nursing homes will have a Quarterly and Annual Careplan meeting where the entire professional care team gets together to discuss your loved one’s needs in care. In these meetings, they will highlight significant changes and brainstorm ways in which to best provide care.
You should attend these meetings. Whether it be in person or on the phone, being present allows you to stay up-to-date with the care your loved one is receiving and will reaffirm your advocacy in their care.
Visit as often as you can, and if you live far away, take advantage of new facetime technologies. I always loved setting up video calls because it always brightened the day of our residents!
As a family caregiver, you are doing the best you can with limited resources. Feelings of guilt about moving a loved one into a nursing home are reasonable and many family members experiences them.
Trust in knowing that your loved one will be gaining back more independence than they probably had before and will have so many more opportunities to socialize!
Staying involved and active in your loved one’s care is the best way to ensure that they are receiving the best type of care that they deserve. Hopefully, knowing this will help you feel more in control of the care and move of your loved one.
How did you feel when you decided to move a loved one into a nursing home? What made it clear to you that moving someone you loved into a home was the right decision? Please join the conversation below.