Change is scary and transitioning into a nursing home can be one of the scariest changes. Being on the cusp of the unknown and having worst case scenarios scroll through your mind can make one almost paralyzed to move forward. In the case of moving into a nursing home, there are the added fears of poor care, neglect from family members, and being surrounded by ailing patients. There are several things that you can do to help your loved one have a smooth transition into a nursing home facility.
First of all, remove the myths and unfounded fears that come with the thought of a nursing home. For many, nursing homes are just a short term facility for those who have a medical condition that needs additional medical attention. Also research the history of the facility to find if there are any reports of abuse, neglect, or health violations.
Secondly, keep things as routine as possible. See if your loved one can still be cared for by their own doctor. You may want to visit on the same day at the same time every week. Bring pictures and cards from grandchildren and other family members. Put a familiar blanket on the end of the bed. For a female patient, have a friend or family member attend to her grooming by giving her a manicure, a haircut, or bringing a pretty bathrobe. For male residents, bring a favorite genre of book, a radio, or give him lessons on how to use an iPad. Anything that can stimulate the mind and keep up morale is worth investing in.
Next, get all of their paperwork in order. Much of the stress of moving into a nursing home is the thought of “what if….” Your loved one should have a living will set in place and an appointed power of attorney. Also review their finances along with Medicare coverage and insurance policies to alleviate one of the biggest stressors that seniors face: money.
Finally, involve your loved one in the decision making process as much as possible. If they can’t visit homes, take pictures or look on the internet with them to show what their available choices are. Let them pick out what few belongings they would like to bring with them (pending facility rules).
The best way to help your loved one transition into this new senior living arrangement is to reassure them that they are loved and will not be forgotten. If a problem arises, you’ll be there to take care of it. When they get lonely, you will come at your usual time or will call on a regular basis. You’ll need patience and breaks now and then, but just being available for the first week of transition can make all of the difference.