I have had many relatives and friends who lived in nursing homes and, especially as a nurse, I am always saddened by how few of the other residents had any visitors, even family members. I have even heard relatives say they would just prefer to remember their relative “the way they were”.
This is not only tragic for the family member’s or friend’s psychological well-being but also potentially for their safety. Nursing home residents without visitors are at greater risk of neglect or even abuse. With sometimes inadequate staffing and/or high nurse and aide turnover, it is important that people in a nursing home have someone who knows them to look out for them.
Here are 3 tips that can help safeguard a friend or relative:
- Get to know the staff and tell them about your friend or relative, especially likes or dislikes. Visit at different times or days in order to know the staff and when it is most convenient to talk with them.
- Notice “red flags” like poor personal hygiene, unexplained injuries, weight loss, emotional changes, environmental hazards etc. and know who to contact if you see a problem.
- Especially if you are have health care power of attorney for your relative or friend, ask about care conferences so that you can attend them. Such conferences usually cover how the resident is doing in terms of activity, possible pain, eating, mobility, etc. It is also crucial to know what medications have been ordered and given, especially the PRN (as needed) ones. For example, you may notice a change such as sleepiness or fatigue that can be helped with a medication change.
By 2020, it is projected that the global population of human beings who are 65 and older will surpass those under 5 for the first time in human history. At the same time, families have fewer children, older adults are more likely to have never married or to be divorced and adult children often live far from their parents. This makes it harder for many older people who prefer to live independently in their own homes indefinitely without help.
According to the CDC, 1.4 million people are nursing home residents in the US and, as I wrote in last week’s blog “‘Rational’ Suicide and the ‘Elderly'”, those residents really benefit from visitors as do all of us who volunteer to help the elderly!
3 thoughts on “3 Tips for Safeguarding Your Loved One in a Nursing Home”
I feel for you, regarding the many losses in your life, in particular your children., and commend you for all the great work you are doing.
In our local town of Walkerton, Ontario, several years ago a prominent family lost their son Wes to suicide – totally out of the blue; no one suspected anything was wrong. A short time later, determined to make something good come out of such a tragedy, they created ‘Wes for Youth Online’, an online counselling service for young people. Since then it has grown by leaps and bounds, since there is such a need amongst our youth. FYI, here is the link:
Also, I do a bi-weekly pro-life column in a very conservative local newspaper, and also send the article out to an email list of about 50. I am requesting permission to reprint your article (3 Tips for Safeguarding your Loved One in a Nursing Home) there, (with credit to you of course).
Thanks for contacting me and I will look at the link. Suicide is so devastating to the family as well as the person.
And you have my permission to reprint any of my blogs you find useful. Thank you for asking!
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