Transitioning a loved one to a nursing home can be an emotionally challenging process. Often, the move is fraught with anxiety, uncertainty, and an adjustment period.

The adjustment period varies on the individual’s life experiences and can take months before the resident feels comfortable. Below are five tips for helping your loved one adjust to their nursing home residency:

1. Listen – Negative feelings are reasonable for a family member undergoing a lifestyle transition. According to a study conducted by UMIT’s Institute of Nursing Science, loss of independence and identity are the highest ranked concerns among nursing home residents (Riedl, Mantovan, & Them, 2013). Support your loved one by listening to their concerns and paying attention to nonverbal communication such as body posture, facial expressions, and unresponsiveness. Remember to never dismiss their comments as irrational or invalid. Instead, acknowledge how they feel, and be genuine in your response to their concerns.

2. Recreate a Familiar Environment – The goal is to help your loved one maintain the normality they lived before nursing home admission. Recreating certain parts of their home life such as their favorite scents, nostalgic decor, and mood colors may improve their quality of life and make the orientation process more manageable, as long as it doesn’t impede the caregiving process.

3. Get to Know the Staff – Introduce yourself to the staff members responsible for your loved one’s care and the staff at the facility. Utilize care plan meetings to bring up any questions and address any concerns you have about the caregiving process. Building a foundation of trust between your loved one, the staff, and yourself is an essential component of the adjustment period.

4. Preserve Social Contacts – Connect with your loved one’s friends and relatives to inform them about the lifestyle change. Give them the appropriate contact information to remain in touch with your loved one and encourage visits. Inform your loved one of any recent changes in their social circle such as celebrations, career opportunities, and gatherings.

5. Establish a Routine – Make visits as routine and frequent as possible within your schedule. Introduce an activity or hobby that you and your loved one will enjoy doing together, such as relaxing treatments, film watching, or crafts. Maximize the meaningfulness of your visit by visiting when your loved one’s energy, motivation, mood, and interests are highest.

References:

Riedl, M., Mantovan, F., & Them, C. (2013, April 04). Being a Nursing Home Resident: A Challenge to One’s Identity. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/nrp/2013/932381/#B10