Choosing the right Elderly Care Unit

Choosing the right Elderly Care Unit

     Do not let horror stories stop you from finding the right supported living unit for your loved ones. The idea of ​​a nursing home can arouse fear in the hearts of loved ones, caregivers and potential older residents, thanks to horror stories that may appear in the media or in prevailing social stereotypes and prejudices.


     Stories are often created and spread due to lack of knowledge and lead to many misconceptions about nursing homes, our well-known “nursing homes”. Of course, not all stories are unfounded, which makes it extremely important to find the best place for your loved one. Having completed a series of experiences in the nursing home, I now have the knowledge and the means toward the proper training of staff in both understanding and caring for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and various psychotic disorders.In addition, in the context of education and the creation of a suitable environment for a dignified living, it is important to educate relatives, nurses and caregivers in the areas of abuse, health and safety, mobility and handling, provocative behavior and pain of the vulnerable seniors. Here are some common misconceptions I have encountered through my involvement with the elderly over the last decade.


Anxiety before entering

     Families often tell me the fear of their loved ones, but also of themselves, to make the decision to go to a nursing home to take care of their loved ones, because they feel that maybe it is a place that will kill the lives of their loved ones waiting for death.In my opinion, the misconception that nursing homes are a place to throw away the elderly is such a harsh and unfair statement. A well-structured unit for the elderly is based on the belief in offering new opportunities and specialized benefits and activities, setting as the main axis the right of every human being to a dignified and beautiful life.


Short-term care options

     Many residents are admitted for a short period of time, often because their medical condition has temporarily deteriorated and they are provided with 24-hour care. Other short-term acceptance options include either renovation to the patient’s home, in cases where this is considered unsafe, or in situations where the primary caregiver is on vacation or has experienced exhaustion. In addition, there may come a time when living in their own homes can be dangerous due to illness even under the supervision of their family or caregivers. Then it is considered necessary to move to a safer environment.


General misunderstandings 

     From experience, I have noticed over the years a strong concern about the proper management of drug therapy and treatment by staff members. They worry that their loved one will be overwhelmed with sedatives just to benefit the staff. I must inform you, however, that only the physician / psychiatrist could prescribe the residents’ medication and that the nurses or other specialized staff would disperse it according to the prescription with respect for the patient. Also, when a resident is experiencing mood changes in behavior, the doctor / psychiatrist will be informed and will decide if changes in medication are required, always according to the medical report of a full examination and seeking to improve the patient’s mental and physical health. A sedative is provided only if deemed necessary by a psychiatrist.


Daily life

     A common point of doubt and fear on the part of patients’ relatives concerns the daily life of their loved ones, the coverage of their needs and the activities offered. They wonder if these activities only include eating, sleeping and personal hygiene. Some seniors may not be able to function to a greater extent, but depending on their age and state of health, nursing homes usually provide treatments through activities that encourage mental health and physical stimulation, such as gardening, specially designed fitness programs, music therapy and day trips (for those who are naturally able to participate in them). Of course, families are welcome to spend time with loved ones, to participate in common activities, and to share beautiful moments with seniors who can move outside the place where they live. The nursing home is not a prison.


Patient care plan

     Other phobias expressed by residents’ families are the loss of responsibility for their family member; they assume that the nursing home will handle all decisions regarding the health of the resident.  This, unfortunately, in some cases of mismanagement and organization of an elderly care unit could not be far from the truth. It is right for the family and the care unit to work together, to communicate with relatives, administration and staff to ensure the best possible care. When an elderly person is admitted, his / her family details and life history are recorded.It also gives a basis for his interests, his favorite habits, his preferences regarding food, allergies, etc. This allows the nurse and activity therapist to structure and carry out the patient care plan based on personal care and mental health. The family can then discuss how they wish to be present and active in future care decisions.


Settling in the new environment

     Family members can visit their loved one at any time to make sure they are receiving the proper care. For example, during the visit, the relatives, being present at meal time, can monitor the communication between tenants and staff, as well as the opportunity to evaluate meals according to the needs of their loved ones. The family is involved in the selection of clothing and personal items for their loved one and, most importantly, if an important decision needs to be made about the care of the resident, the family must be informed and involved in care plans and discussions. Along with family members worried about losing responsibility for their loved ones, there is a fear that residents may lose their individuality. The right elderly care unit will use the resident’s life history along with the care plan based on an individual’s individual care needs. For example, some residents may not want to get up at 9 in the morning, some may prefer to get up at 6 in the morning or for example some may want to have their hair done weekly, so a hairdresser may visit  The idea behind a care unit is to keep the occupants as close to their normal routine as possible so that they can better settle into their new environment. The care plan should be consistently evaluated, reviewed, and modified, if necessary, to suit each individual’s needs and desires.


 Improving the transition

     The best way to resolve any misconceptions is to visit a nursing home at regular intervals to understand the functions of the facility. Families can meet with the person in charge of the nursing home to discuss the lifestyle and needs of their loved one and to observe how the facility is organized and managed. Use your senses to evaluate the positive or negative points in the operation and configuration of the space. In addition to the necessary remarks regarding the coverage of the needs of the tenants, the environment is also important, the space that will be the new home of your loved ones.  The decoration, the background music, the clean, full of flowers, pleasant environment definitely shows the emphasis that the administration of the unit gives to the home; to provide as beautiful a daily life as possible to the residents, to you and your people.


You need to get answers to questions like

     Are there open or restricted visiting hours? Can the resident leave the unit for one day? What activities does the nursing home provide? How is the program tailored to the interests and needs of patients? These questions should definitely be considered in your search to find the right place for your loved ones.


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