The Nursing Home Saga: The Final Journey Starts

The decision has been made as to which nursing home or assisted living your loved one is going.  It has been a hard decision and you are not 100% sure it is the right one.  That is OK.  No placement will ever be the same as home.  The hope is the the person’s needs will be taken care of.  It can be very stressful leaving the first day.   Your world has now shifted to a new reality.

My advise.  You cannot be complacent and expect your loved one to get the care you hoped for.  Most nursing homes are understaffed and under funded.  It is important to let the staff know you are involved and you want updates.  It doesn’t mean it will happen.  You must be vigilant about getting regular updates on health status.   Often you will have to insist on a doctor’s visit  or an explanation as to any change in health or mental status.  Nursing home personnel are not always responsive to health changes.  Be alert to any medication changes.  The elderly can react differently to medications due to a slowing metabolism.  Sudden changes in mental status may be related to a new medication (if there is no Alzheimer’s diagnosis).

Get to know the staff.  Sometimes speaking regularly with the aides or nursing staff can be helpful.  There is usually one person who will be a great help.  You can get the inside scoop.  Let everyone know you are involved and call regularly. If other family members are involved, have them do the same.

Assisted living facilities offer upgraded services at a cost.  There can be more one on one by hiring a aide.  I find that helps to keep  a person active mentally and physically.  I recommend asking friends if they know of someone you can hire privately.  My experience, there is a different level of commitment to the client when it is a private hire.  It is also cheaper.  Home health agencies tag on administration fees.  An aide can also be hired for a nursing home.

Don’t be surprised if the response time to your questions or concerns aren’t answered immediately.  There is often much finger pointing and lack of responsibility.  The classic line is “We do our best with so many clients”.  Family members often voice concerns to me that if they complain too much, there loved one will suffer.  It is what the institution wants you to think but won’t happen.  If you feel really frustrated, hire an advocate!  An advocate will ease your burden, and make sure your loved is cared for with dignity and respected.

My final entry in this series will be about dealing with end of life issues.