How to Help Parents To Adjust in a Nursing Home

By Author on December 08, 2011

Adjusting into a new environment is difficult for everyone, more so for seniors.  Uncertainties and insecurities, coupled with the fear of the unknown may mark this new phase in adult life.  Unanswered questions and doubts may lead to suspicion about why there is a need to transfer to a nursing home.  A gnawing feeling of loss of independence may produce a sense if inadequacy.  

Families should make an effort to help their parents adjust into this new way of life.  Assisting parents in coping with a new beginning should be a part of the initial plans of moving them into a senior facility.  Getting used to a nursing home may take some time and limitless patience, but with the family beside them every step of the way, the transition is most likely to be smoother.  With proper support, adjusting to a nursing home can become easier and pleasanter for parents and their loved ones.  Having a guideline for the family and the parents will be useful during the adjustment period.  

Communication

Experts say that adjusting into a nursing home is a different experience for every parent.  Adjustment usually takes place within four to seven weeks.  During this phase, parents and their families should both make an effort to make room for changes.  At this point, the lines of communication should be kept open.  If a parent feels left behind and shut out, depression and withdrawal from society may take place.  It is important for seniors to understand the need for changes and be prepared for them.  A full grasp of the situation can help parents regain control over their lives.  Families, loved ones, and caregivers should always be available to provide pertinent information.  It is also better for the family to stress the importance of socializing with the new community.  Parents should start making new friends and initiating open correspondence with the caregivers of the facility.  

Supportive Attitude

It is also during this time that family members will feel the full weight of the decision to move their parents.  Feelings of guilt may surface and self-depreciation is common among former providers of care in the family.  The best way to overcome this is to remember why moving a parent into the nursing home was necessary in the first place.  Developing negative sentiments will only make it harder for a parent to adjust to a new home.  A positive outlook helps maintain a strong relationship that is rewarding for both the parent and the family.

Encouraging Presence

Aside from the willingness of the parent, the family is always the strongest and most dynamic factor in a successful adjustment to a nursing home.   Regular visitations show incomparable willingness to help parents ease into their new lifestyle.   Meetings with the caregivers and managing directors can be done to ensure that parents are given the appropriate care and assistance that they need.  Being an advocate of the parent helps them regain self-confidence to start anew.  Family members should join activities whenever possible to help parents initiate friendship with other seniors.  Asking the parent if there is a specific activity or interest that he wants to pursue during the stay in the facility can also foster a sense of belonging.  If visitation is not likely or limited, maintain contact through other communication devices.   Talk to caregivers and inquire how the parent is getting along with the staff and the other residents.  

Adequate Space

The presence of family and loved ones are vital to the adjustment.  However, excessive visitations also hinder the adaptation of parents to their new surroundings.  Visiting too often takes up the time that could otherwise be spent getting to know other residents and fostering a trusting relationship with caregivers.  Involvement with the activities of the facility is also stunted when parents spend too much time with family.  Increased dependence on family members may also develop, defeating the goal of maintaining an independent and active lifestyle.  Give parents support, but also give them enough room to grow in their new environment.

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