The choice to integrate an elderly loved one’s life into a community living environment can be very challenging. There are many angles to consider including personal preferences, cultural requirements as well as health and safety. And just when things are settled and you found the perfect place for your elderly loved one to live out the rest of their days in comfort and safety, you may hear the dreaded words “I want to go home”.
This may feel devastating, especially to someone who has worked hard to look at all the different requirements necessary and have found a safe place for your loved one to live. However, feeling lonely or isolated from their family can also be incredibly difficult for elderly loved ones to navigate emotionally. So before making any hasty judgments, take a deep breath and consider the following.
Communication is key to a healthy relationship and can be beneficial when solving problems such as wanting to leave your nursing home. The first step to good communication is listening, therefore you should inquire as to why your elderly loved one would like to leave and listen actively to their concerns. The concerns that your elderly loved one may have could be perfectly legitimate such as problems with poor care, other residents, bad food, and the emotional and mental challenges that come from a drastic move.
If your elderly loved one is experiencing extreme loneliness or homesickness due to the big adjustment of being away from their friends and family then perhaps making an effort to visit more can relieve some of that loneliness and make this new assisted living space feel more like home. Most importantly, if you spend time at the facility with your loved one and notice that poor care and resident-related issues are present then you can immediately take action with the administrator. You are your loved ones’ best advocate and they deserve the best care possible and a safe environment for them to enjoy.
Home Care Options
If you and your elderly loved one find yourselves in circumstances that allow you to take them from their nursing home and have a safe alternative for them to live in, that may be the best option. However, removing your elderly loved one from assisted living can be very costly, as the primary caregiver will have to hire at-home caregivers if they have specific needs. Also, if your elderly loved one is used to 24-hour service from their nursing home, it may be a safety risk for them to be taken out of that environment and only have home care services available part-time.
Alternative Nursing Home
If your elderly loved one has expressed a specific dislike for the assisted living facility that you have chosen, it may behoove you to do some research and come together with your loved one to find an alternative placement. This may be as simple as your loved one not liking the nursing staff or the accommodations and would prefer an alternative community. In that case, you can give your assisted living home advance notice of your departure and start taking your elderly loved one on tours for new communities for them to enjoy. Ensure that you are mindful of your payment plan with your assisted living community and give adequate notice to leave so that you are not penalized with a financial penalty.
While you never want to hear that your elderly loved one is unhappy with the assisted living home that you have chosen with them, it does not mean that that is the end of the conversation. Stay calm and lean into the uncomfortable conversation and discuss why they are feeling unhappy and what can be done to problem-solve.
It is not always feasible to switch assisted living facilities or take them home and provide personal or professional home care. However, if poor care is a systemic issue within that facility, that is necessary information that you need to know moving forward so you can start developing a plan to switch them to a more appropriate care plan. This may include hiring a part-time personal caregiver to provide specialized support to your loved one or researching a safer nursing facility. Begin this conversation with an open heart and a listening ear so you can problem-solve with compassion.
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