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6 Steps to Getting Someone in a Nursing Home And Mistakes To Avoid
It's hard facing the challenge of placing your parent in a nursing home. This situation often comes with difficult emotions like regret, guilt, and sometimes a sense of relief. How do you choose a care home?
How Do You Talk to Aging Parents About Moving?
This article will help you learn the steps to getting someone in a nursing home as well as ways to be kind to yourself throughout this sometimes painful process.
1. Enlist Your Parent's Input as Early as Possible
If an elderly parent refuses nursing home care, it's because they probably feel backed into a corner. One of the first and most essential steps to getting someone in a nursing home is being sensitive and considering your mom or dad's feelings. Imagining their lives in a different place could be daunting, so it's essential to be empathetic and incorporate their input as much as you can. It's their life after all.
If your loved one still has the cognitive ability to contribute to decision-making and planning, then make sure they feel heard in the process.
If you find that you're still finding it difficult to sell your parent the benefits of long-term residential care, try being less pushy. Instead, let your loved one warm up to the idea. And if they finally decide to move, ensure you visit them frequently in the nursing home.
How Can You Tell When an Elderly Person Can't Live Alone?
It is essential you emphasize the benefits of modern residential care. Your elderly parent may have an outdated perception of assisted living facilities and nursing homes that could be the reason behind their refusal.
Remind your loved one that you want them to be as safe, comfortable - and most importantly - happy as possible. Your elderly parents may be putting themselves in danger by continuing to live alone. Bring up any health issues, loneliness they may be experiencing, and accidents or falls as examples of the need for assisted care.
Here are some examples of the potential benefits of nursing homes:
- Increased safety
- Greater social vitality
- Better physical care
- Closer access to fun activities
- Fewer responsibilities
- More opportunities to make new friends
- More enjoyable and meaningful family interactions
2. Visit and Evaluate Several Local Care Facilities
When taking tours of different facilities, try your best to take your parent with you. Keep the vibe fun, light, and positive. As you tour each assisted living center or nursing home, try to do these things:
- Observe how the staff members interact with residents and visitors
- Observe the length of time cognitively- or physically-impaired residents are left alone
- Take note of how quickly staff members respond to urgent situations
- Find out if the facility provides appropriate care to residents with needs similar to your parent
- Spend time with other residents and visiting family members for their opinions of the facility
- Ask the kitchen how they handle special dietary needs. Try their meals for yourself
- Look into the facility's security situation and whether the facility has a dedicated section for residents with dementia
- Take a look at the living quarters and envision how your mom or dad's room could be decorated and furnished
- Inquire about the facility's procedures for handling medical emergencies.
- Discuss with the facility's administrator about availability, cost, funding options, and the required steps for admitting your loved one
3. Get Your Parent on the Waiting List
It can be challenging to know how to get your parent into a nursing home or assisted living if you don't do your research and have a plan in place. The best nursing homes are often full. Rooms only become available as current residents leave or pass away.
This very reason is why it's a smart idea to look at nursing home options early, meaning before your loved one needs to be admitted. When you put your loved one on the waiting lists of your favorite nursing homes, you'll have a better chance of a spot being available for them when the time comes.
If they aren't ready when a room becomes available, most nursing homes will allow you to turn it down while still keeping your spot on the waiting list. This ensures your parent doesn't feel pressured or rushed and can enjoy living at home for as long as possible.
4. Consider Medicaid Funding
Many of us don't have the financial resources to pay for nursing home care or assisted living out of our own pockets. If you do not have the financial means for long-term care in a nursing home for your parent, you can get coverage through Medicaid.
Coverage varies by state, so find out if your state provides Medicaid coverage for nursing home care or assisted living facilities. Sometimes, your mom or dad may even be able to keep their property as a protected asset.
Since it can take quite some time to get approved, it's a good idea to start early and apply for Medicaid funding before your loved one actually needs it.
5. Let Everything Sink In
If you feel overwhelmed throughout this process, you're not alone; it's completely normal to feel that way. Your elderly parent may feel overwhelmed as well. Change isn't easy. It may take your loved one a long time to be okay with the idea of living in a nursing home. It's essential you do your best to be patient and maintain a positive and gentle attitude.
It may take some time to process all the information you've gathered for your elderly parent and everyone in your family.
Your mom or dad may still have their hesitations, but with time may become enthusiastic about moving to a nursing home. You and your siblings presenting a positive and unified front would be beneficial to convincing your parent.
For some seniors, all it takes is an injury, brush with danger, or medical emergency to finally be convinced.
6. Agree on a Final Plan
One of the last steps to getting someone in a nursing home is agreeing on a final plan. Meet with key family members in person or through a video conference to go over all the details. Take this time to work together and decide how responsibilities will be delegated before, during, and after your loved one's transition to a nursing home.
It's important to keep in mind that each of you may have different capabilities, resources, and local availability. For example, those who live out of town may not be able to provide the same type of support as those who live close by.
Luckily, with today's technology, staying connected doesn't require physical presence. Many facilities allow for video calls between residents and family members who live far away.
There are many ways to make sure that everyone is doing their part and contributing something meaningful to the effort despite whatever obstacle there may be.
Have regular meetings to go over any changes or updates
Making the Transition as Smooth as Possible
You may have a lot of intense emotions, such as doubt, guilt, excitement, and fear when the time finally comes to move your elderly parent into nursing home care.
Remember that this will be a highly emotional time for your mom or dad as well. They may feel scared, sad, angry, or even confused. Your parent may give you the silent treatment or lash out with harsh words.
It's essential you do your best to prepare yourself and your loved one for what may be a stressful next few days.
Steps On Making the Transition
- Remind yourself that the stress will be temporary
- Take care of as many things as you can prior to moving day
- Organize and review all of the necessary paperwork ahead of time
- Take note of some of the important events that happened in your parent's life and be sure to include it in their medical history
- Ask if the nursing home offers some sort of buddy system for new residents; this can make the first few days feel less intimidating for your parent
- Meet the facility's key administrators and caregivers
- Bring up any concerns you have with the nursing home's senior staff members and schedule follow-up meetings or conference calls
- Take time to help your loved one come up with a satisfying new routine and identify enjoyable activities
- Remind your mom or dad often that they are loved and that you will continue to keep contact as much as you possibly can
- Prepare how you'll respond if your mom or dad complain about wanting to go home or being unhappy
- When it's time for you to leave, try to make sure your parent has the company of another resident or staff member or is settled into an engaging activity
- Assign someone, either yourself or one of your responsible family members, as the primary contact person for the nursing home in case of an emergency. Remember to also choose another family member to be the second point of contact
- It may be challenging to get the entire family to visit your elderly parent all at the same time, so schedule a family Zoom call, so your loved one doesn't feel out of the loop
Coping With Guilt and Other Difficult Emotions
Many of us may feel overcome with guilt, anxiety, disappointment, or a sense of loss when placing our loved ones in a nursing home. Guilt is all too common in this situation. It is natural to feel like you're letting your elderly parent down, especially if they are having trouble or resisting the idea of nursing home care.
How Relief Can Trigger Guilt
Sometimes, your guilt may be a result of positive emotions. For example, you may feel a sense of relief that your mom or dad will finally be in a safe place and receive appropriate care, and you'll finally have more time for yourself.
Also, some people feel these emotions even when their loved ones are cooperative and enthusiastic about nursing home care. Despite how normal or common guilt and other difficult emotions are, they can also be harmful.
These emotions can make you feel isolated, zap you of energy, make it hard to think clearly and increase your stress. Guilt and other difficult emotions can even lead to depression in some people. It is essential you take healthy steps to cope with these feelings for the sake of your mental health.
Here are some ways to help deal with guilt over placing your loved one in a nursing home:
- Allow yourself permission and time to grieve
- Acknowledge your emotions and accept them for what they are
- Attempt reconciliation with your loved one for old resentments and unresolved issues
- Focus on feelings of unconditional love instead of feelings of obligation
- Continue reminding yourself that your mom or dad are better cared for, less isolated, and safer
- Remind yourself that you did not cause your loved ones cognitive or physical impairments
- Remember difficult circumstances are largely out of your control and that you're doing the best you can
- Accept the fact that nursing home care is an eventual reality for millions of elderly parents, including yours
- Set healthy boundaries by avoiding and steering conversations away from any attempt to guilt-trip you
- Allow yourself to have a life that isn't focused on taking care of your parent
- Make sure each visit with your loved one is as fun or meaningful as possible
- Acknowledge that you are still a caregiver, but just in a different way, and that's okay
- Find new ways to connect with your elderly parent when you can't physically be there, whether it's through phone or video calls
- Get emotional support from your family, friends, or your spiritual community
- Look into therapy or one-on-one counseling if your guilt is still overwhelming despite making efforts to let it go
How Do You Get Your Elderly Parents to Move?
It isn't easy being faced with the challenge of placing your parent in a nursing home. You may be wondering how you can remain sensitive to your loved one's feelings while moving forward with what you know must be done.
We hope our article on the steps to getting someone in a nursing home gave you more insight. When you have a better understanding of what's involved, you and your loved one will have an easier time going through the process.
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