Are you allergic to nursing homes?
This seems to be a common phrase for people who have a fear of visiting nursing homes. Some say they can’t stand the smell, or they find it depressing to see disengaged, listless seniors.
This fear can be compared to an aversion to hospitals, where people are very ill.
Things have changed from the way these homes were run a century ago. You may have been listening to negative stories of cold, old folks’ homes, which can be carried on through generations. Or it may boil down to a basic fear you have of getting older, sick or immobile.
You must take the challenge to visit your loved one to see these changes for yourself.
They are now focusing on personalized care and services, creating a more home-like environment and bringing new initiatives to improve residents’ quality of life. They believe, as you do, that seniors deserve to be treated with respect. The staff develop real human connections with the people they are caring for to keep them engaged and in good spirits.
You can overcome your fear, visit them regularly to show them they are loved by their family. Often the sense of touch is missed.
A warm hug from a daughter, son or grandchildren could be the greatest gift you could bring.
For many a nursing home will be their final home. Naturally, we don’t like that feeling and begin to question our own mortality, but death is an inescapable part of life.
Make the choice now to stare your fear in the face by visiting seniors so they can enjoy their remaining time as much as possible.
Plan different ways to brighten their day when you visit. Think of things they’ve always enjoyed. You could play cards, dominos, chess, checkers or do some crafty project.
Maybe you could order a CD of their favourite music and listen to it together or bring along an old family album. Some seniors with significant memory loss will remember a face from their childhood even though they may not be able to recognize the person visiting them.
If you get frustrated or question the value of your visits, remember that you may reside in a long-term care facility one day.
Just do it!
Karla Reinhard lives in Qualicum Beach, where she explores seniors’ issues and personalities in the area. For story tips or questions, she can be reached at email@example.com