Having a parent or loved one who is in a nursing home can ease the challenge and burden of or providing primary care. It can also provide some rewards for you and your loved one. Many of the primary caregiving tasks are taken care of by the nursing home staff, but there are things you can do to ensure that you are still providing the best care you can. This includes taking care of yourself and continuing to be a constant presence in your loved one’s life.
1. Be Honest About Your Feelings
Despite all of the steps you may have taken to prepare both yourself and your loved one for the changes in circumstances, you may still be experiencing feelings of guilt, anxiety, worry and grief that may have to be addressed. Your parent may also be experiencing his or her emotional turmoil. It is important that you both fully acknowledge those feelings. If necessary, speak with a professional in whom you can confide and can assure you that the best decision was made for your parent’s well-being.
2. Advocate for Your Loved One
Actively engaging the nursing home personnel is another way you can supplement the care provided at the nursing home. Start with your loved one and ask the questions you would want to be asked to you were in your parent’s situation. You should also speak regularly with the personnel who spend the most time with your loved one to demonstrate that you are actively involved with your loved one’s care. Speaking regularly with the facility’s physician is also helpful.
3. Seek Support
Consider joining an organization for the relatives and friends of nursing home patients. Some facilities have their own group that meet regularly and that gives the families a voice in decisions that affect their loved ones.
4. Concentrate on the Care You Can Provide
Keep in mind that the primary caregiver for your loved one is now the nursing home. This reduces much of the burden you may have had before and allows you the opportunity to show how you care in other ways. Focus on what your loved one may that want, like outings for meals. Be realistic about your capability of providing these needs.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Self-care will still be important for you even if most of the primary care tasks are being handled by the nursing home. You should make sure that your emotional, mental and physical health does not suffer. Make sure that you get the nutrition and the sufficient amount of sleep you need to maintain your energy.
6. Stay in Regular Contact
Try to adhere to a regular contact schedule with your loved one when they are in the nursing home. This can include daily phone calls or weekly visits. There may also be activities at the nursing home that allow family members or caregivers to be participants. If you are out of the area for an extended period, see if you can arrange a video conference with your parent.