Moving = Disorientation
When I was in my mid-fifties, my husband and I moved out of our home of 30+ years to a two-bedroom apartment in a different part of town. Talk about disorientation! Nothing was where it had been – scissors, laundry basket, winter boots – every item had a new place.
Imagine what it is like for a person suffering from dementia to move. It could throw the brain into a tailspin!
My sister Patty was very sensitive to my parent’s move to the Villa. She helped arrange their cupboards, pictures, and other items in the same order they had been in their house.
If it is possible, minimize the disruption.
CALL TO ACTION: If your loved one has a progressive illness such as dementia, try to seek out a place providing progressive care. Moving is disturbing, disorienting and stressful under the best circumstances.
Prepare ahead of time and research options in your area.
Medicare.gov is a resource for researching nursing homes. Search by state or name of the care home. See https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html?
Many states also offer nursing home evaluations. In Minnesota look on http://nhreportcard.dhs.mn.gov/.
When your loved one is in a care home, find a way to “due diligence” yourself.
- Keep an eye on what is going on, visit at odd hours.
- Be on a first name basis with administration and the head nursing staff.
- Remember your loved one may not be able to speak for themselves; you need to be their advocate.
- Do they consult with the person with Power of Attorney on medical issues? Make sure they know who has the authority to act or speak.
- Are you informed when there are injuries or illnesses?
If you live far away, try to find an advocate to visit your loved one and report back to you.
Institutions are People
I had to remind myself care homes are institutions, made up of people just like you and me. These workers are dedicated to their jobs, people loving to serve and care for seniors. However, institutions fail, and people fail. No matter where your loved one lives, everything will not be perfect. Practice diligence – and grace.
A well-placed basket of granola bars in the staff lounge will go far. Treats on a holiday or donuts on an “any” day are appreciated. You may want to slip a gift card to a special staff member.
When my mother-in-law was in a nursing home out-of-state, my husband and I would occasionally ship cheese and crackers, or other treats, to the staff.
Be considerate and respectful. Working in a care home is hard work and they are often understaffed. Most people are doing their best.