With the recent increase in the number of seniors entering nursing homes, it’s no wonder that many caregivers struggle to understand how to help their senior loved ones transition successfully. The process of entering a nursing home can be very difficult for an individual or family member. As a result, caregivers need to learn how to help their seniors through this process while simultaneously assuring that they do not put them at risk. Here, Eli Mirlis, CEO of RegalCare Management Group, shares some helpful tips on how you can help your senior go into a nursing home with as little stress as possible.
Find the facility that is the best fit for your loved one
The first and foremost step in helping your loved one transition to nursing home life is to find a facility that is the best match for your senior. While every senior is different, there are certain factors you can use to help you decide which nursing home is right for your loved one. You can start by talking to other loved ones in your family who are also in the nursing home and try to “meet” the nursing home staff.
If you are unable to make an in-person visit, you can order copies of the nursing facility’s Facebook and Twitter pages to be sent to you via email. You can also use the search function on Facebook and Twitter to find other family members who have also recently entered a nursing home and start a conversation with them. By asking questions and interacting with others in the same situation as your loved one, you will be better able to discover what type of nursing home would be best for your loved one.
Help Them through the Adaptation Phase
During their lifetime, most people experience a period of adaptation as they adjust to new circumstances and learn new routines. This is true for both individuals and families as they navigate the transition to nursing home life.
It is also safe to say that for many people with dementia, this process can be a lot more challenging. It is during this period that a nursing home stay could turn into a very difficult, anxiety-inducing experience for the individual and their family members. The good news is that there are things you can do to help ease the transition for your loved one during this challenging period, explains Eli Mirlis. You can help them by:
- Providing support during the morning and evening “cathouse” hours
- Encouraging independent living while maintaining a watchful eye on your loved one’s health
- Keeping track of your loved one’s medications, including the difference between the doses you give them and the amount needed for the day
- Making sure your loved one receives routine medical check-ups, including a physical, cognitive evaluation, and speech and language therapy
- Helping them to negotiate using the various assistive devices available in the nursing home, such as a writing or communication stick, an eye lift, or a voice changer
- Helping them to make healthy choices, including the opportunity to choose a favorite food each day
- Helping them to make social connections, particularly with other aging relatives in the nursing home
Help Them Stay Social
One of the best ways to ease a person’s transition to a nursing home is to make sure they have as much “social” time as possible while they are in the nursing home. This means that your loved one’s interactions with other residents, staff, and visitors should be similar to how they normally are. Most importantly, you should be able to spend some time with your loved one during the day, every day. A good way to start making this happen is to set up regular social gatherings, either in your home or a coffee shop or other public place. You can also try to do some of the activities you usually do together, like taking care of your loved one’s medication, grocery shopping, or visiting the doctor together. You can also take advantage of the various social media platforms your loved one is likely to use (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to arrange regular updates and keep in touch with other family members and friends who may be able to help out.
Another way to help your senior go into a nursing home with as little stress as possible is to visit them as often as possible while they are in the nursing home. This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but so many caregivers forget to visit their loved ones in care facilities or hospitals. Visits provide a great opportunity to connect with your loved one on a personal level, as well as get advice on various subjects related to their care. You can also use visits to check on your loved one’s health and wellbeing, as well as to meet other family and friends who may be visiting from time to time. Your loved one’s health and well-being are very important, and by visiting frequently you are able to keep an eye on your loved one’s overall health, as well as to make sure you are doing everything you can to help them during their time in the nursing home, adds Nursing Home Administrator Eli Mirlis.
The process of moving a loved one into a nursing home can be very stressful for both you and the person being cared for. With the right assistance, though, you can help your loved one navigate their new life in a safe and secure environment. The best way to help your senior go into a nursing home with as little stress as possible is to: Find the facility that is the best fit for your loved one. Help them through the adaptation phase. Visit frequently and offer support during “cathouse” hours. Keep a watchful eye on your loved one’s medications, including the difference between the doses you give them and the amount needed for the day. Make sure your loved one receives routine medical check-ups, including a physical, cognitive evaluation, and speech and language therapy. Helping them to negotiate using the various assistive devices available in the nursing home, such as a writing or communication stick, an eye lift, or a voice changer. Helping them to make healthy choices, including the opportunity to choose a favorite food each day. Helping them to make social connections, particularly with other aging relatives in the nursing home.