Helping Them Adapt

As seen in the Consultant Connection November 2014 Issue
By Teresa Koch CPhT, ICP
Making The Transition To The Nursing Home Easier
Placing an aging parent or loved one in a nursing home does not mean the end of their life or relationships. How can you make this transition easier? Rather than spending energy on feelings of guilt or sadness use that energy to find creative ways to remind your loved one that you still care.
The following are some tips that may help with the transition to their new home:
Include your parent or loved one in the decision making regarding his or her property and possessions. Often the family home is being sold and items from the home are being scattered among family members or sold as well. Familiar touches can make a room seem less sterile and more like home. Encouragement to bring special items along to their new home may be helpful. A special quilt, chair, bureau and of course photos can help a room feel “more like home”
Listen. Allow your loved one to voice his or her concerns, opinions, and questions. Acknowledge how they feel and stay focused on the positives such as around the clock care, meeting new people, getting proper medication and activities.
Consider corresponding with staff about the personal history of the new resident. Personality characteristics, jobs, marriage, nicknames, military service and family info can provide conversation topics.
If your loved one is healthy enough for outings, encourage them to do so often. Shopping trips, grandchildren’s events, and family or holiday dinners can all be a great joy to them. If unable to venture out encourage participation in activities that the nursing home provides having family or friends attend with the resident also.
Take comfort in that nursing homes/long term care facilities have come a long way. They are brighter, cheerier, and warmer and more home-like.
Don’t lose your sense of humor. Look for an opportunity to laugh - and do so.
Take a break. Do not expect to do all the work that may be needed to help with the adjustment. Some things will need to be handled by the nursing staff, the doctor, and the resident. Do what you can and leave the rest to the experts.

1. “Moving your loved one to a nursing home: What can you do?”
  Ohio Dept of Aging (

2. “Life in a nursing home; What can you do to help your loved one adjust”
Inter-Generations: Social Services (

3. ”Helping a loved one adapt to a nursing home”
Record Publishing Newspaper Kent, Ohio (

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