Nursing Home Caregivers

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Mom has finally adjusted to her room in a different area of the retirement center; the transition process has been a long one-- the actual move happened in June. Yet repercussions from the move are still being experienced by these residents. They were not only used to their routine, but also to the familiar faces of the staff members. Mom and some of the residents who have Alzheimer’s Disease have had trouble getting used to working with different nursing staff, staff who are not new to the retirement community, but who are to the residents.

    Yesterday, I ran into one of the aides who had worked with Mom when she was in the secure unit. This aide was assigned for the evening to Mom’s hallway; normally, she is assigned to another area of the nursing home. She shared with me that Mom (and several other residents who used to be in the secure unit) have been balking at letting some of the unfamiliar staff members help with bedtime preparations. Because this aide has worked for a long period of time with these residents and has gained their trust, she has been moving between wings to be a visible presence and to help these residents with dementia calmly get ready for bed.
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    Although I think that some of the issues being experienced are due to the unfamiliar faces, I also think that some portion relates to the matter of control. Many of the nursing staff who have not worked with Mom try to communicate in a directive manner. But that’s not working very often with Mom (or with some of the other residents who have dementia).
    So what’s the secret of getting these residents to do what is needed? Our long-time aide replied, “I make them think they are in charge, even though I really am.” I’ve often heard that our parents become our children, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to be treated like adults. At least this aide has figured out how to play to Mom’s ego and help Mom feel like she’s in charge.

    Upon entering the room, this nurse’s aide turned to face Mom. “Miss Betty, you are so bossy,” the nurse’s aide grinningly told my mother. “What did you say?” Mom asked, feigning not to hear the comment. “You’re bossy,” the aide repeated. And with that, Mom broke into a wide grin and agreed wholeheartedly – and then did exactly what the nurse’s aide wanted her to do.
Published On: August 15, 2006