10 Tips to Help Your Loved One Adjust to Nursing Home Move

by Christine Kennard Health Professional

Moving your loved one into a nursing home is a decision that most people find very difficult. The transition from living at home to requiring nursing home care has often been prompted by a deterioration in their mental and physical state, but relatives still feel guilty. Here are 10 tips on how you can help them adjust successfully to the move. You may find they help you too:

1. Find a Nursing Home that Meets Their Care Needs

Do the ground work. Find the care home that best suits the needs of your loved one. There is a lot to think about. This slideshow on choosing a nursing home

gives you some ideas about what to look for.

2. Help Them Settle In

It is important for caregivers to be actively involved in helping a loved one settle into a new home. If it is the policy of a nursing home to stop relatives visiting for a week or two after admission I would be concerned. It does not take much imagination to think how it would feel if you suddenly found yourself in a new home with people you do not know. These policies are often for the home staff rather than your relative. Only in very rare cases, possibly if you find your visits causing violence and aggression, should you temporarily stop visits. If you are asked it should be by the doctor in charge of their medical care.

3. Visit Frequently

Visiting on a regular basis helps with the transition from home to nursing care placement. Your relative will see you still love and care about them. It shows the staff you do too and they do take more interest because they know you appreciate what they are doing. You can monitor your relatives progress and be actively involved in care decisions. You can also provide medical, nursing, and occupational staff with information if required.

4. Encourage Participation in Planning their own Care

Relatives can make a big contribution in this area by giving people with Alzheimer's time to express their needs then passing on their messages to the managers and nurses of the home. Making sure a loved one is not made to get up too early unless they want, giving people with Alzheimer's a voice, is one of the most valuable roles a relative can make. So often people in various care facilities are the recipients of regimes that do not take into account the wishes of their users.

5. Encourage Participation in Activities

Research shows us that people with dementia place value on making a contribution and helping other people out. For people in care homes it allows them to return to the valuable roles they had prior to their placement. Cheering up others, using talents for joke telling, playing a piano, singing, helping others with choosing and eating food, helps to give life meaning.

6. Encourage Social Interaction Outside their Nursing Home

Keep up visits outside the nursing home wherever possible. Any interests such as bowling, visiting gardens and parks, shopping, visits to relatives and friends, can still continue. It is probably a good idea that you re-commence outside visits once they have settled into their new home. Caregivers often have the energy to take their loved one out once they no longer have responsibility for day to day car
7. Volunteer your Time, Skills and Help to the Home

It is wonderful for staff and other nursing home residents to have contact with people who have no one to visit them. If you play a musical instrument, can help in cooking or painting sessions it is nice to go and contribute and entertain residents.

8. See Yourself as an Active Participant in their Care

Assisting your relative with simple hygiene tasks like hand washing, helping them to the bathroom, taking them for a walk if they are able, should all be continued if possible. If you are involved in helping to plan their nursing care then you can always help with behavioral programs such as toilet training too. Keep yourself informed on nursing their care plan.

9. Act as an Advocate for Relative

Acting as an advocate for a relative with dementia will help ensure they get the best treatment and care and live as rewarding and happy a life as possible. It will also help protect them from abuse that sadly still takes place in nursing care homes.

10. If you are not Satisfied with Care?

If there are problems with a nursing home Carol's sharepost explains how you can contact your ombudsman.

Article Sources:

Downs M. Bowers B 2008 Excellence in Dementia Care. McGraw Hill New York.

National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform. Family involvement in nursing home care. www.aging.iowa.gov/Documents/Ombudsman/FamInvolvement.pdf6

Christine Kennard
Meet Our Writer
Christine Kennard

Christine Kennard wrote about Alzheimer's for HealthCentral. She has many years of experience in private and public sector nursing care homes for people with dementia. She has worked in a variety of hospital, public and private health settings and specialized in community nursing. Christine is qualified in group analytic psychotherapy, is registered in general and mental health nursing and has a Masters degree.