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Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

What tips do you have for getting an elderly relative comfortably settled in a new nursing care facility?

Asked by Pied_Pfeffer (27855points) April 10th, 2017

It’s my partner’s father. He has dementia and is being moved from one care home to another. Are there any tips for getting him settled and educating the staff there on his needs and background?

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16 Answers

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Have favorite music playing on repeat. Hire someone to visit every day. Have favorite food available. Send hand written letters every day.

zenvelo's avatar

Have a couple of things he is very familiar with, such as a picture, a blanket, or a book nearby.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thanks @RedDeerGuy1. The music is a good idea. Maybe we can set up a CD player in his room and provide his beloved Al Jolson and she tunes.

As much as we’d love to, visiting him every day is a challenge, both time-wise and financially. His memory has deteriorated so much that he doesn’t even remember his wife of 50+ years. When we visit, he asks us who we are and then asks again through the visit. The only benefits to our visits is to regularly check up on that he’s comfortable.

He likes candy, so we’ll add that to the list.

@zenvelo His memory has deteriorated to the point where all of the things that he adored at the onset are wiped out. Photos of his parents might be a good idea. He still talks about them.

My question is really about how to help the staff connect with him. When someone has dementia, it’s about learning to connect with them in their current world and not forcing them into reality.

janbb's avatar

Ask for an intake meeting with the social worker and/or head nurse. In that meeting, talk to them about his dementia, needs and your concerns. Ask them the best way to communicate about his care. Give them your – or your partner’s – contact info and any instructions such as DNRs or advance care directives.

flutherother's avatar

Another idea is to put up pictures and details of your partner’s father’s life around his bed so the nursing staff are constantly reminded of the human being they are dealing with.

kritiper's avatar

Buy them a very comfortable reclining lounge chair (with coil springs!) and a new digital TV, if they don’t have one already! Check with the care center for specifics on TV size, and any chair details. Be sure to put your name on all items!!!

BellaB's avatar

Music is very important and helpful with patients/family/friends with dementia. Photos from the old days can be helpful.

Find out what makes him happy and keep him supplied with it. My best friend’s mother-in-law is about the colour red and jewelry. We keep her stocked with red sparkly costume jewelry and hair clips (really cheap as she constantly gives them away). We found red and gold Chinese rice paper locally and my friend puts a big piece on the wall each month.

Does your partner’s father sundown? if so, try to make sure your visits are not during that time. It makes things harder on everyone. Try to make sure your visits follow a regular schedule. Make sure the staff keeps everything in his life well-regulated. Additional confusion is not an option.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

These are all wonderful ideas. Thanks for sharing. Three of his children are meeting up at the new home in a week or so to check on their dad and meet the staff. Hopefully, they can put together a bio on Dad’s life, his likes and dislikes, some photos, etc. to take there.

youlostne's avatar

The more often you visit, the more attentive the staff will be. They pay more attention to the clients who have caring family members.

Stinley's avatar

Peace and quiet as well as familiar things around him. So a family member visiting often and staying for as long as possible.

I’d also always recommend books. You can buy reminiscence books for people with dementia. Also simple puzzles like wordsearches or adult coloring books.

rojo's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer If you do decide to provide photos, put them in albums and be sure to label each one with who is in the picture and/or where it is taken. I find the albums that have little note areas beside each picture are best for this. Also, I try to print the information as large and clear as possible, sometimes sacrifice content for clarity and ease of understanding. It is, after all, for their enjoyment.

rojo's avatar

Also, something I read recently suggests not taking the person back home for a visit. It takes several weeks for them to adjust to their new environment and sometimes when they go home again the process has to start all over again because they think they have “just” got there from their old home each time. Not that you shouldn’t take them places if they are able, like the park or a restaurant, just not back home. Not for a while anyway.

I can relate to this. My mom is living with my sister and it took over four years for her to finally recognize my sisters house as her home. My sister would take her back to her old place from time to time when she had something that needed doing there and each time there was major disruption in the household for weeks afterward with mom wanting “to go home”. My dad has been dead over five years now and it has just now reached the point where she does not recognize her old home as such. Now it is just another visit somewhere.

stanleybmanly's avatar

My experience from people I now and have visited in nursing homes (and there are a lot of them) is that no single piece of advice is as crucial as that given by @youlostne and @Stinley. It is a cynical fact that you can often make a crucial difference in the care received by patients through frequent visits and familiarizing yourself with the staff. The importance of this grows exponentially in those facilities you might deem short of your personal standards. The cynical truth is that your function as a “squeeky wheel” can make a big difference in what happens to those you care about when you aren’t around.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thanks for all of the suggestions. He’s been moved into the new home and hopefully is settling in. He’s been asking where his lady friend from the previous home is, as they are getting married tomorrow. :)

The photo album with pictures labelled is a good idea. He likes to talk about countries he’s visited but can’t remember where he went unless they are named. It will provide the staff opportunities to learn about and engage with him.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Since the three children that live nearby and have insanely varied schedules (two work shifts), I set up a FB message group for them. Their communication with each other is stellar since they rarely did before their parents started to decline.

The file that the previous home sent over supplies extensive information on Dad. As my partner said, Dad is so impacted by dementia that his needs are basic and the previous home has a better idea of what he now likes than we do. He does have a photo album, but can’t even pick himself out in a picture.

One daughter checked in with the home today via phone (She just had back surgery and can’t travel yet). He’s settling in well. When he became agitated that he couldn’t find Lady Friend and that they were getting married tomorrow, the caregiver responded, “It’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding.” It worked. How clever was that?

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