It is important to strike a delicate balance when it comes time for family visits to assisted living facilities. You can be supportive of your loved one and there are times when you interfere with their care.
Are Families Too Involved in Family Life?
I like to think I was always on the safe side of this line. Over time I became friends with the staff. I tried to keep out of their way when they were busy and didn’t talk too much. If they had a problem, I didn’t critique them. Instead, I asked them if they could make adjustments. I listened to their explanations and suggestions. My visits lasted about an hour, which allowed me to meet with elders and ensure that their day was complete. Both elders and staff were open to my presence.
Employees would sometimes confide in me about relatives who took over nursing home visits. They acted as though they owned the facility, and that their loved ones were the only residents that mattered. They surrounded every staff member they could find, and spoke to them as if they were good neighbors who had all the time in this world, or enemies who required constant monitoring. Both attitudes are bad.
Entitlement vs. Advocacy
Family caregivers are naturally concerned for the wellbeing of their loved ones. This is especially important for elderly who can’t totally understand or take part in their care. A few family members may take on too much responsibility.
Everyone wants the best possible care for the people they love. While most families want one staff member per resident, that is not the case in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Nurses would tell me stories of visitors who spent the day in the nursing home and demanded services for their elderly. While I could understand their concern for their loved ones and the demands placed on nurses, and aides working in this field, I also realized how difficult it was to keep them safe.
The staff at this facility was caring and aimed to provide high-quality care to all residents. Family members should remember that there are other residents who need care and that their needs may be more pressing than your loved one. Privately hiring a professional caregiver or nurse is the best way to get the personal care many families expect. In fact, this option is often available in most facilities. If you’re happy with the community, but need a companion or “sitter”, it is possible to add a “sitter” or companion.
The length of your visit is not as important as how you spend it
I observed that many residents’ spouses spent the majority of their days at the nursing home over the years. It might seem that having visitors constantly visiting the nursing home would cause problems for staff, but it was actually quite the opposite. These people helped their spouses and also pushed other wheelchair users down to the meals. When it was time to do crafts, they helped residents. They made it their mission to visit the elderly and were a vital part of the facility’s daily operations. They were careful to not interfere with the work of staff.
Although placing a loved one into a nursing home reduces caregivers’ responsibilities, it does not mean that they are eliminated. To ensure that seniors are receiving high-quality care, they still require an advocate. To feel loved and important, seniors need to be surrounded by family members. This is the lesson: The best caregivers treat the nursing facility as an ally and not a threat, and they do everything possible to make their loved ones’ lives better.
Limit family visits in Assisted Living Community
There have been many comments regarding facilities that restrict family visits in assisted living in Myrtle Beach. These facilities have staff who claim that it is difficult for residents to allow their loved ones to visit. To help seniors adjust, they recommend that they not visit for at least a few weeks.
This is not to say that this approach isn’t appropriate for elders. This recommendation is not for all elders. Many seniors worry that they will be “dumped at some facility and forgotten”. It is important to know that their loved ones are there to support them and keep them occupied. Regular visits from friends and family helped my parents feel at ease and settled in. Visitors made their lives more exciting and they looked forward to spending time with us.
There is no one rule that applies to all situations. However, if the facility limits visits, inquire why. A move can cause confusion and stress for people with dementia. To help the person with dementia adjust to new surroundings, the memory care facility might recommend that they wait a few weeks before visiting. You can trust the facility and agree to their wishes for a while, but you also have the right, as a family member, to visit at any time. It could indicate a problem if they discourage visits from other reasons. It is best for nursing homes to allow family members to visit. Transparency is a positive thing.
Balance Frequency and Length of Visits
Consider staff members as people who are trying to help residents. They will resent you if we ask for more time than they have or attention that they can’t provide. This is also true for complaints. If we approach the staff as though we know they just want what’s best for the residents, it will be much easier to collaborate and devise solutions– particularly those whom they feel responsible to see through. Staff will not go the extra mile to help you or your loved ones if they feel judged and treated as enemies.
Bottom line: If you have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you will be welcomed by most assisted living communities when you visit to see a loved-one.
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