Taking care of your loved ones in nursing homes

Entering the stage of life where decisions must be made about your elderly relatives can be an uncomfortable and worrying time. We all want the best for our family members who are in need of a new living situation, and sometimes there can be pushback from those who want to remain independent.

But often, the best available solution is to find them a nursing home that will be able to provide the care and programs that they need to thrive. Our concern for their well-being does not end there, and we should be on the lookout for ways to ensure that their time in the nursing home is a benefit to them.

There are a few things that you can do and watch out for in terms of an individual’s health that can help improve their quality of life.

Pay attention to the health of their teeth

With all of the duties that nursing home caregivers fulfill in their roles, it can be easy to overlook some of the less noticeable facets of an individual’s health. When you are visiting your loved one, check to see if they are practicing good dental health. Do their teeth seem to be noticeably darker than before, or are dentures appearing to be less clean? Don’t be afraid to ask if they are brushing, flossing, or using mouthwash to keep their mouth as healthy and clean as possible. The change in scenery could have led to a change in habits, so keep an eye out for any effects on their dental health.

Be vigilant for signs of abuse

Elderly people face a higher risk for potential abuse due to their more vulnerable state, whether it comes from caregivers or other residents. Though we hope that everyone has the best interests of each resident in mind, unfortunately, there are plenty of cases of abuse that happen in nursing homes. Be on the lookout for signs of physical duress that crop up, or if your loved one appears to be uncomfortable around certain people. If abuse has occurred, there are abuse attorneys who can help you address the situation.

Bring games or pictures when you visit

The loneliness that sometimes accompanies living in a nursing home can drastically affect the mental state of your loved one. The best way to uplift their spirits and help make their experience more positive is to bring fun things to do with you when you visit. This could be a board game that your family has played with them before, or you can introduce them to a new game that their grandkids love to play. Additionally, you can bring family photo albums to share fond memories with them and brighten their day. Frequent visits early on in the transition can help them adjust to life in a new environment.

Take note of the facility and staff

Simply looking around the nursing home itself can be a great way to care for your loved one to see if they are in a quality establishment. How clean are the common areas and rooms that they live in? Do the staff seem attentive in their interactions and are they quick to respond when someone needs assistance? Does furniture seem old and worn down or is it new and sturdy? You can even do some online research to see what kinds of complaints residents make or reviews the facility receives from other family members. Doing all of this will help you understand how the nursing home operates and if it is the right place for your loved one.

Do thorough research before selecting a facility

This may seem obvious that you would research the nursing home that your loved one may move into, but there are certain types of research that are helpful indicators. For example, word-of-mouth can be the best testimony, so ask people that you trust who have relatives in nursing homes what their experience has been like. We all want the best for our loved ones, so it can be helpful to know which facilities have made a positive impression on your friends and their families. A quick Google search of the facility will typically show you ratings for any type of business, and nursing homes are no exception. See what the 5-star ratings have to say, but also check out what the 1-star ratings reveal if there are any. Doing your research ahead of time will ensure you choose the best location right off the bat.

You are their best advocate

The burden of making sure that your loved one is cared for in a nursing home will often fall on you. They may not have the ability to advocate well for themselves, in which case you need to pay attention to how their needs are being met. You know them better than the staff at the facility does, so stay vigilant and be the top advocate for your loved one.