Moving a parent into a nursing home after they’ve spent their entire adult lives living independently is hard on everyone. Your parents aren’t going to like the idea of giving up their home, their possessions, and having to move into a facility full of other residents and medical staff.
Ideally, they’ll want to be in an assisted living facility where everyone gets their own room with a door to close. In this setting, it’s easy to make their room feel like home. However, you need money to make that work.
In most U.S. states, Medicaid only covers the nursing/care portion of assisted living and it’s up to the family to pay the full amount of rent. Assisted living rent isn’t cheap – it’s often double or triple what regular apartments rent for in the same area.
If you can’t afford to pay for assisted living, here are several ways to keep your parents happy and make them feel at home in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
1. Keep an eye out for potential abuse
Your parents can only feel at home when they feel safe. If they’re in an abusive environment, nothing will make them feel at home.
You are your parents’ best and only advocate. Social workers aren’t around to see everything that happens on a daily basis. Protect your parents by keeping an eye out for red flags that could indicate elder abuse. For example, reputable nursing neglect attorneys explain that neglect is also a form of abuse and can take many forms. Failing to follow protocol that results in injury can be considered elder abuse.
For instance, nursing homes have a duty to assess each patient’s fall risk and implement safeguards to prevent falls. If a patient is a two-person transfer and falls because only one person was available to help them to the toilet, the facility could be liable for injuries.
Pay attention to red flags like bruises, cuts, bedsores, dehydration, weight loss, and changes in mood. If you suspect your parent is being abused, contact a nursing home attorney right away.
2. Ask for permission to bring in some personal furniture
If your parents are in a long-term care facility or nursing home, don’t assume they’re stuck living in a boring room without any décor around them. Most facilities will allow you to decorate the walls and bring in some personal furniture, as long as it doesn’t get in the way.
Bookshelves and dressers are perfect to bring into a facility to make your parents feel more at home. Bookshelves can be used to store books, keepsakes, and framed photos. A dresser can be used to hold clothes and you can put a T.V. and DVD player on top.
3. Bring home-cooked meals
Nothing feels like “home” more than home-cooked meals. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities aren’t known for their gourmet meals. Sometimes the food is okay, and other times it’s questionable.
When you visit your parents, bring them home-cooked meals and plan on eating with them. Most facilities will have a community refrigerator where you can store additional meals. Just be aware that depending on state laws, the facility might only be able to keep meals for a couple days even if the package is unopened.
Check with the facility first so you don’t bring a week’s worth of meals that get tossed after two days.
4. Ask to meet their friends
At some point, your parents will start making friends in the dining room or library. Ask who they’ve met recently and see if you can go meet them. Hang out with your parents and their friends for a meal or a game of cards.
5. Change up the décor for holidays and seasons
Be festive and decorate your parent’s space with holiday or seasonal party decorations. Pin colorful ribbons to their corkboard, put fun stickers on their calendar, and bring in a colorful tablecloth to put on top of their dresser or bookshelf.
If they enjoyed decorating their house for holidays, they’ll really appreciate the changing and colorful scenery.
Home is where the heart is
It’s cliché, but it’s true: home is where the heart is. Once your parents settle into their space and get used to a new routine, they’ll eventually accept their new home as “home.”