Nursing Homes, Part 3

This post continues my thoughts (and apparently I have quite a few of them) on nursing homes.  It is my desire to help you, my readers, gain understanding and insight that will be useful when or if you are faced with the necessary decision of nursing home placement for someone in your family.

4. Moving a family member into a nursing home is exhausting.  It was for me.  There was so much to do.  When we moved Mother into the nursing home,  there were many things she needed that she had not needed in the hospital.  We got her several changes of clothes, toiletries, a TV, decorations for her room, a bedspread, and the list seemed to go on and on.  We labeled everything; her underwear, her socks, her clothes, everything.  Even with all the labeling, her things seemed to disappear.  Part of the time, the aide that did laundry put her things in another room.  We had a little refrigerator for her with things she liked to eat.  At first it was a real treat for her, but she could not get into frig by herself so we gave her the goodies when we were there visiting.  We had candy for her stored in one of the drawers of her chest.  She loved chocolate and delighted in eating it.  The candy began to disappear from her drawer.  Because her memory and her communication skills were so poor she could not tell us who was the culprit.  We never knew if it was  staff or another resident.

Please understand that in some nursing homes things are taken from residents rooms.  I hate to use the word stolen, but sometimes, especially if staff members are doing it,  theft if the most accurate term.  Residents will sometimes wander from room to room and bother things, but most of the time they are harmless.  Most staff members are wonderful and would not dream of taking something from a resident, but there will always be one or two……

5. If you are the primary caretaker of your family member, make sure that you have Medical Power of Attorney.  That may not be the correct legal term, but whatever it is called, you need that legal document, and you need several copies of it.  Though the privacy laws are much tighter now than just 3 years ago, a Medical Power of Attorney should enable you to have access to your family member’s medical information at the nursing home.  Because I am not a legal expert and are not knowledgeable of  the current privacy laws, you need to not rely on my information as a legal source.  Please find a professional in this area and follow their advice.

6. By having Medical Power of Attorney, you can keep close supervision of the medications your loved one is taking.  Please check frequently for changes in dosages, as well as medications that may be added or taken away.  Ask questions. Ask questions. Again, ask questions if something doesn’t seem right.  I remember that Mother was having trouble with her bowels.  It seems she was having diarrhea and we couldn’t get it stopped. They were giving her mediations for this.   When I checked on her medications, I found that she was also taking meds for constipation!  I was astounded that her nurses had not caught this problem. If I had not asked questions, then we may not have found the problem. Most of the time we were notified when it was necessary to alter her meds, but sometimes we found that we were not made aware of all the changes.

In this nursing home, the ratio of medication nurses to residents was astounding.  Their responsibility was huge.  Most of them were competent.  Some were competent and compassionate.  I was sorry that they had so many residents for which to care.  However, in my mind and in the mind of my sisters, our mother was their only patient.  We were always nice and friendly to the nurses, but they knew we were very serious when it came to our mother’s care.

Yes, there will be a part 4 on the topic of nursing homes.

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