November 3rd, 2011 at 10:55 am
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Getting comfortable with nursing home visits

by Isabel Fawcett, SPHR

It took me more than a few months to get used to the emptiness I felt at home after having cared for Mom full-time, for more than 3 years. Initially, my nursing home visits felt as if time stood still. Our conversations were not the same due to her dementia. I felt as if I had lost my life-long best friend. In some ways, it still feels that way, although I have long since adapted to the rhythm and flow of nursing home visits.

My nursing home visits

I styled Mom’s hair daily, did her laundry, ironing, and enjoyed giving her manicures. Initially, the highlight of each visit was wheeling Mom to the sun-room where we talked up a storm, laughed and watched the outside world through a huge panoramic window. Back then, I always turned Mom’s wheelchair to face the outside window. When it was time for me to leave, I re-positioned her chair closer to other residents to ensure she had plenty of lively interaction after I was gone for the day.

As I got used to the nursing home environment, I started to chat with other residents. Several of them told me how much they enjoyed Mom’s style and presence on their unit. I couldn’t help but take notice of four residents who reached out to make not only my mother, but me, feel welcome. With each visit, I felt more at ease, especially when I greeted each of the residents who had befriended us by name.

Three tips for nursing home visits

Here are some tips that can help you become more comfortable visiting your loved one in a nursing home.

1. Get to know other residents in your elder’s unit. Doing so may help you to feel more at ease when you visit the nursing home.

2. Bring small gifts. Occasionally, you may want to take an inexpensive little gift for your new nursing home acquaintances. This small token of friendship goes a long way.

3. Introduce yourself to other residents’ family members. While you are at it, if other residents have relatives visiting, introduce yourself. I have invited other individuals to join me for lunch or dinner whenever we can swing it.

Even though your loved one is now in a nursing home, your caregiving journey isn’t over. It simply has reached a new phase. Dealing with loneliness can be difficult, so be sure to reach out to others as much as possible.

Adjusting to a nursing home is as tough for a caregiver as it is for an elder. Please remember, you’re not alone.

Posted in Caregiving, Nursing Home | 1 Comment »
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One Response to “Getting comfortable with nursing home visits”

  1. Ginger Schneider

    What kind of small gifts should I bring? They just put my 86 year old Grandmother in a nursing home. She is very upset, and does not want to be there. Unfortunately for her she gave my Uncle (her son) power of attorney when she was ill, and regrets it tremendously! Anyway, she is stuck there, and he won’t even let me take her outside the home for lunch. I live 5 hours away, so I can’t visit her much. What can I bring her to make her life easier and comforting? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,

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