Deciding to place an elderly parent or relative in a nursing home can be a source of stress. You and your loved one have to confront feelings and situations that are unusual and unpleasant. At Family Again Services, we’re committed to making this life transition go as smoothly as possible for all concerned. We offer the following guidance as a start.
Coping with the Decision
1. Accept all of your feelings as part of the process. This difficult decision leaves you feeling guilty, which may be fed by your loved one’s words and insistence on remaining out of the nursing home. You may also grieve for your parent as well as feel relief for having a burden lifted. Because these feelings are normal, you should acknowledge and accept them. What you are doing involves plenty of soul searching and adjustment, which will take time.
2. Realize that you are not responsible for your loved one’s decline. Your parent’s current condition, which may simply be an age-related decline or a progressive disease like Alzheimer’s, is not your fault. His or her condition would still exist whatever decision you are forced to make.
3. Find people with whom you can discuss your issues. These folks would include staff in the facility and people outside going through the same process. You should find support groups, blogs, and websites related to your issues using an Internet search such sites like Duck Duck Go, Bing, and Google.
4. Understand that professional care is a necessary next step. You probably do not have the skills or experience to provide the higher level of care needed to care for the elderly or sick. Nursing homes assess each new resident carefully before accepting them to ensure that they can provide the appropriate level of care. Their specialists are experts in maintaining the health of and providing comfort for those under their charge.
5. Let the home do what you’re paying them to do. Allow the facility, its staff, and resources to take care of your parent. If he or she is well cared for, then you can move forward with life to the benefit of all of your family.
Helping Your Loved One Adjust
1. Encourage your loved one to bring familiar items and photos. Space may be limited, but there’s usually room for a few things. Surround your loved one with the usual helps with adjustments. Use a blanket or bedspread from his or her bedroom, a treasured memento or two, and even family photos.
2. Talk to the staff. Providing information about your loved one’s preferences, needs, interests, and daily schedule can help the staff tailor the experience to your parent’s needs. Your loved one is more likely to respond to personalized attention.
3. Visit frequently for short periods. Loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or memory loss typically adjust better if someone familiar is around regularly. Show up frequently to say that this is home now and that you love them. Spend time reminiscing through old photos and encourage attendance in nursing home activities.
You can’t always change a situation, but you can be supportive, loving, and kind. That never leaves your loved ones.