No one looks forward to the day they have to go and live in the nursing home. Most people don’t want to put their loved ones in a nursing home either. Unfortunately, sometimes it really is the best choice for your loved one and your family.
The good news is that the nursing home doesn’t have to be a depressing place to live! There are many ways you can help your loved one live their best life, even if they have to do it away from their home.
Find the Right Nursing Home
The first, and the most important, thing you can do to make sure your loved one is comfortable is to find the right nursing facility for them.
It’s an unfortunate fact that 10% of the elderly population is being abused inside facilities that are supposed to be keeping our loved ones safe and healthy. Do your research to find a nursing home with great reviews, experienced staff, and the proper licensure. You should also consider the design and layout of the nursing homes you tour.
Some have been newly remodeled with modern amenities, while others have a more comfortable, lived-in feel. There are also special designs for Alzheimer’s patients that mimic the look of houses in a neighborhood, just indoors. Find one with a look and a feel that will lift your loved one’s spirits when they walk through the door.
Much of what makes a place a home is the people inside it. A nursing home is full of people your loved one has just met, which can make it feel like a strange and unwelcoming place. You can ease that feeling by visiting as often as possible.
Just stopping by for a quick chat is enough, but there are many other things you can do when you visit your loved one at the nursing home.
For example, you can:
- Bring a puzzle or a game
- Go for a walk
- Bring the kids to come and play
- Bring a pet
- Invite other residents to chat
Just make sure to check with the nursing home first. That way you can ensure you aren’t breaking any rules by bringing the kids by too late or bringing a dog when their roommate has a pet allergy.
Help Them Frame and Hang Pictures
Pictures can trigger memories in people with dementia, but photos can have a powerful effect on all of us. They remind us of the past, of our loved ones, and they can definitely make an empty house seem more like home.
Choose some of your favorite pictures of your family and have them framed. Then, bring them to the nursing home to share with your loved one. They can place the frames on tables, or you can ask if you can hang the pictures on the walls.
Have even more fun by bringing new photos and change them out often!
Help Them Do Some Decorating
Nursing homes can feel very clinical unless each room gets a personal touch. Help your loved one’s space feel and look more like home by helping them do some decorating.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot! Just because you can’t buy a new couch or bed doesn’t mean you can’t bring over some colorful throw pillows, warm blankets to snuggle with, and new sheets for the bed. A simple lamp can liven up nearly any space, as can rugs, matching towels in the bathroom, and handmade artwork from the youngest members of your family.
If your loved one has dementia, there are specific things you can do to make their room more comfortable. Contrasting colors can help seniors better navigate their home, while heavy drapes can keep disorienting outside noises from coming inside.
Bring Homemade Food or Cook Together
When many people think of home and family, they think of the food that often comes with gathering together. Bringing some of your family’s favorite dishes can be a great way to make your loved one feel more comfortable in their new home!
If you can, consider cooking with your loved one instead. There are many emotional benefits of cooking that will certainly lift both your and their spirits when you get your hands dirty together. If your loved one doesn’t have their own kitchen, ask the nursing home if you can borrow a community cooking space for your next visit.
Choose an easy recipe, if you need to. For example, you can make the cookie dough ahead of time and let your loved one help you bake and decorate them.
Take Them on an Outing
There are a lot of things nursing homes are allowed and not allowed to do. You have to follow those rules too, but depending on the particular nursing home and the condition of your loved one, you may be able to take them on an outing.
Ask if you can take them out for an afternoon of shopping, or if someone can pick them up for a holiday celebration. Knowing they can leave will make your loved one feel less stuck somewhere they might not want to be.
It isn’t uncommon for people to take over and start making decisions without input from the person those decisions will affect the most.
Don’t make this mistake!
Your loved one deserves to have a say in their nursing home experience, so ask them! How do they want to decorate their space? Which pictures do they want to hang on the wall? Which of their belongings do they want to bring from home, and which ones are they willing to leave behind? Even if you can’t do everything they requested, at least they know you’re willing to listen.
The nursing home doesn’t have to be a scary and uncomfortable place. You really can make it feel like your loved one’s home away from home when you follow the tips on this list.