Coping with a Difficult Transition

You’ve talked to your friends, neighbors, church members and hair stylist about choices.  You’ve checked the websites, and been on the tours.  You made the best decision based on the information you had and you placed your loved one in the nursing home of your choice.  Now what? 

If you Google “adjustment to nursing home placement,” you will get a litany of information for your loved one.  These offer things like “stay involved,” “participate in care planning,” and “offer support.”  But, what about you as the family member?  There are relatively few resources that offer guidance on the myriad of feelings that you will be bombarded with soon after placement.

For many, especially those whose loved one was admitted to a nursing home directly from the hospital, the first few weeks after placement can be a whirlwind.  Your loved one suffered a health crisis and hospitals are very hectic and overwhelming places.  Within a few days of admission, a doctor or social worker told you to look for nursing home placement.  Or perhaps you’ve noticed a slow decline in your loved one’s ability to function day-to-day.  No matter how you arrived at the decision, it will likely be fraught with emotion. 

You may experience guilt:   Did I do enough?  What else could I have done to keep them at home?  They were so healthy before.  Why now?  I told her I would never place her in a nursing home and now I’ve broken my promise.  She’s so angry with me.  These are all statements and questions that our staff may hear on a daily basis.  But for you, it’s the first time you’ve experienced this.  We understand that and know that your decision was not an easy one. 

You may experience grief or feel the loss of who your loved one once was.  Let’s be honest.  No one wants to place a loved one in a nursing home but for many, it is the only choice because their care needs exceed the family’s capabilities.  It is OK to allow yourself time to mourn.  Acknowledge these feelings for what they are.  It is sad to see our loved ones getting older, knowing that there will come a time when they are no longer with us.  Placement in a nursing home can be a blatant reminder that you are, unfortunately, that much closer.

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block is trust.  While at The Friendly Home, where we have provided quality care day in and day out and have done so for over 160 years, it is probably the first time that you have experienced this situation.  Trust is something not easily given and very easily broken.  Once it is, it can be hard to repair. We recognize you are entrusting us with someone precious to you – your loved one – and we honor and value the trust you have placed in us.

You will be a participant in your loved one’s care, and we ask that you partner with us for every step of this journey.  You are an integral part of our care team.  We realize that you are just getting to know us and please remember, we’re getting to know you and your loved one as well.  Talk with us.  If there are certain requests, please let us know and we will try to accommodate what we can within a skilled nursing setting.  We are better able to meet your expectations if we know what they are beforehand.

Most of all, remember that the feelings you are feeling are completely natural.  We know that this transition is a very difficult one; however, we hope that it helps you to know that we’re all in this together.  We’re here to help guide you through this next chapter.

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