Watching your parents get older can be challenging. The people who raised you and whom you always depended on for many years are now becoming more reliant on others for medical care. In many cases, they may be looking to you to help them figure out the best living situation going forward since their home is no longer able to meet their needs.
This stage of life may be difficult, but it is necessary to have the right conversations. Often, this results in your loved one moving into a nursing home. This type of facility is specifically designed to care for aging adults that have more intense physical needs. Whether they have limited mobility or simply need assistance with daily tasks, nursing homes have the staff necessary to take care of your parents well.
However, no nursing home facility is perfect. It is not enough for you to help your parent move into the center and then leave them be. There are still some steps that you must take to help care for them during their stay.
While nursing homes were more restrictive about visitations in the past, recent national laws now allow for greater visitation rights for residents and their guests. Moving into a nursing home can be scary and lonely for an elderly individual. They are no longer in the comfort of their home and they are initially surrounded by strangers. Visiting your loved one frequently, especially early on, can lead to a smoother transition. Additionally, seniors are often at risk of depression due to loneliness, so the key relationships in their life can significantly boost mental health. Try to visit consistently so that they feel supported and loved during this time.
Learn About Resident Rights
Until you either live in a nursing home or have a loved one that does, these environments can be confusing to understand. You and your parent likely have no idea what rights they have as a resident. Understanding the rights of long-term care residents should be a priority before your loved one moves in. For example, they have a right to receive quality care and maintain a level of dignity. They also have the right to receive visitors when they want to and the staff must accommodate that. A right to privacy is also important since their healthcare needs are involved. If you are aware of their rights, you can better protect them from potential violations.
Know the Signs of Abuse/Neglect
Unfortunately, abuse and neglect are big problems for nursing homes in the United States. While some issues come down to accidents, others may involve more severe motivations. Abuse can come from both staff members and other residents. If you know the signs of abuse, you can respond quickly to hold the responsible party accountable and protect your loved one in the future. Some of these signs include
- Unexplained bruises/cuts
- Medication errors
- Cases of bed sores
- Discomfort around certain individuals
- Withdrawn attitude
- Emotionally upset or agitated
If you see any of these signs with your loved one, it could mean that abuse or neglect is occurring and their needs are not being met, in which case you should contact a nursing home abuse lawyer.
Encourage Exercise and Interaction
Residents in nursing homes may not automatically become social butterflies, especially in the early days. They may be uncomfortable in their environment and not want to engage with others. Though nursing homes provide plenty of opportunities for physical activity and social interaction, they are usually voluntary. You can help maintain social and physical health for your aging parent by encouraging them to participate in these activities. Maybe you can even go with them during a visit for the first time.
The emotional support that your presence provides could be enough to get them over the hump. Sometimes, taking the first step is the most challenging part of the process, so helping them through it could lead to a more positive experience in the nursing home going forward.
Bring Games, Pictures, or Decorations
Living in a nursing home facility is not like living at home for your parent, especially if they were in the same house for a long time. This adjustment can take time before they feel comfortable in their room or unit. When you visit them, try to bring pictures or decorations that they can put in their space to make it a little more comfortable. Also, bring a game or fun activity that you can do together. While conversing is helpful, a distracting activity can help facilitate more conversation and keep their brain function healthy.
As Hard as the Transition is For You, it is Probably Harder For Them
This is an important concept to keep in mind. While you may be struggling emotionally with the change in your parent’s lifestyle, or trying to manage a loaded schedule full of visits, remember that the transition is probably even more challenging for them. They are giving up a lot of independence and comfort to be in this facility so that their physical needs can be met. Though it may be tiring, you must help them through those first weeks and months of life in a nursing home. You can vastly improve their experience by following the tips listed above.