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Helping Your Loved One Adjust When a Nursing Home Becomes Necessary

Almost every person who finds themselves in charge of moving a loved one into a nursing home dreads the very idea – even when they have the good fortune to choose amongst a number of amazing facilities.

Caregivers in general are usually aware of their limitations in providing 24/7 care of a loved one, friend or patient, but when it comes time for a nursing home, most fear the loss of direct oversight and control. It’s also a clear indicator that health has deteriorated to a point prohibiting a return home in self-care. For many, the hardest part about moving into a nursing home for the individual themselves and those who care for them is the dose of reality it deals out to all involved.

If you are helping a loved one move into a nursing home and adjust to their new surroundings, remember that people deal better with change when they know what to expect. Fear of the unknown can be both emotionally and logistically debilitating. One of the most helpful things that you can do to make the adjustment as smooth as possible is to know what’s coming and discuss the scenario with your loved one thoroughly and repeatedly.

Top 4 Ways to Help Your Loved One Adjust to Moving into a Nursing Home:

1.     Visit the Facility: Before the move takes place, visit the facility in person. Check with the staff to see if extraneous furniture could be removed and replaced by personal items like a nightstand, dresser or chair. If this is an option, take measurements of the room or obtain a floor plan so that you can double check prior to move in that the items can be placed in the space without inhibiting the flow, or inhibiting staff from assisting your loved one as necessary on a day-to-day basis.

2.     Find Out What is Included: Talk to the staff while you are on site to find out which items and services are included with the facility’s fees. Items to ask about include: bedding, towels, linen laundering, cable tv, telephone service, WIFI, television, clock, personal care products, etc. This discussion will not only help define what is and is not available but will also help determine if any of the services you may deem as necessary for your loved one will actually be categorized as optional extras that will add additional fees to the monthly bill.

3.     Assist Your Loved One with Packing:  In this situation, it is often more about what you are not packing than what you actually are packing. Helping your loved one choose what to pack and what to purge is often one of the most difficult parts of the transition to a nursing home. Assist them in sorting through garages, storage closets, furniture and family heirlooms. Most seniors making the transition to nursing home care have been collecting personal items for decades and may be feeling as if they are losing both their home and their possessions when they agree to move to a nursing home. Some find that they can provide their loved one with a sense of continued connection simply by aiding them in storing or distributing some of their family heirlooms, valuables, seasonal clothing/décor, or other important items in a way that leave them technically in possession or with easy access (i.e. a storage unit or gifting items to relatives, etc.)

4.     Gather a Few Favorite Things: Pack a few items of personal significance to your loved one. Having them in their room will promote happy memories and provide positive stimulation. Such items could include: family pictures, favorite artwork, music, favorite lotions, books, or other small items.

Most importantly remember that this can be a challenging time for you and your loved one and that a room in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility will never be the same as a long-time home. Don’t try to replicate what they once knew, instead allow them plenty of reminders and treat the move as a chance to create a new, comfortable, safe home that is filled with happy memories and fun activities.

If you have questions about how to prepare to help a loved one thrive in a nursing home while they get the higher level of care they need, get in touch with our experienced Medicaid and Estate Planning team at Grunden Law today. You can call 260-969-1177 or email us at info@grunden

April GrundenComment