When your loved one moves out of their home and into a nursing home facility, the transition can be rough. And while you probably held your loved one’s hand through the first couple of weeks, it can be hard to keep up the same level of intentionality for months or years. Knowing how to properly monitor your loved one’s care on an ongoing basis can improve their experience and emotional state of well-being.
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3 Tips for Checking in On Your Loved One
Imagine what it would be like if you suddenly lost some of the independence that you take for granted. What if, for example, you could no longer bathe yourself without the risk of falling down? Or what if you found it difficult to navigate around the kitchen and prepare meals for yourself? Think about how frustrating this would be.
Then, on top of this state of diminishing capabilities, consider what it would feel like if your friends and loved ones told you that you needed to move out of your house and into a healthcare facility with people you’d never met before.
This is the situation that your loved one is in. And while every individual has varying degrees of anxiety, sadness, frustration, loneliness, and depression, it’s important that you’re aware of the possibility of each. This can be a very tough transition and your willingness to monitor your loved one’s physical care and emotional well-being will go a long way towards helping them discover a new sense of normal.
Here a few tips:
1. Make Regular Visits
The best thing you can do is to make in-person visits as frequently as possible. Even if you only drop by for five or 10 minutes a time, the act of entering into their environment makes a huge difference. On a practical level, visiting also allows you to make physical observations.
One of the primary concerns with new residents is a lack of proper nourishment. The stress and anxiety of the move can limit your loved one’s appetite and it’s important that this doesn’t go neglected.
As Nursing Home Law Center LLC explains, “Nursing homes must have a dietician to handle matters relating to each resident’s diet. In fact, federal regulations not only require that there be a dietician, but that the person also meets certain licensing and educational requirements.”
If you’re worried about your loved one’s nutrition, set up a meeting to speak with the dietician so they can keep a watchful eye out for any warning signs or issues.
2. Call Every Day
Isolation is one of the biggest problems with new nursing home residents. Make it a point to call every single day for the first few weeks or months. Even if the conversation only lasts for a few minutes, this gives your loved one a chance to relay how they’re feeling and enjoy some social stimulation. (You get bonus points if you can teach them how to use FaceTime!)
3. Get Them Out and About
While you want to give your loved one time to settle into their new environment, it’s also helpful to occasionally get them out and about. Whether it’s getting dressed up to go out for an event, or simply making a trip to the supermarket, there’s a lot of good that can come from changing the scenery from time to time.
Keep Open Connections
It’s important that you stay connected to the nursing home staff so that you can ensure your loved one is being properly cared for. Find out who is directly involved in their care and make it a point to speak to a staff member every time you visit.
You may also find it helpful and encouraging to link up with other families of residents in the facility. This allows you to share ideas and serve as eyes and ears for those who can’t visit as frequently. These groups often exist at larger facilities and are referred to as “family councils.” If one doesn’t already exist, consider starting one.
Many nursing homes do a phenomenal job of integrating new residents into their facilities in ways that are loving and supportive. However, some do not. It may be up to you to keep an eye on your loved one and provide a shoulder to lean on during this time of change.
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