How do you deal with your parent in a nursing home?

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Recently my mother was put into a nursing home by her POA (which is not me.) I was not contacted or even asked about it other than if I could take care of her at her place. Which due to my circumstances is out of the question. So the POA and mother decided where she would be placed at. I have NEVER had to deal with seeing anyone in an nursing home before and quite honestly, I expected far better than seeing people hanging out in their doorways, complaining about this or that, constantly on their call buttons, no room to have much of anything in a room that has another patient in it. They seem to take care of her, but for the life of me I am just flat out upset. I have been there twice. The day after she got there and tonight. How do you deal with seeing your parent (that you were not close to. She is my adoptive mother.) in that type of environment? I knew I was not to expect Club Med but it upset me to no end that we have to provide a phone for her and a TV. Thankfully she had a smaller flat panel one, but she has room enough for her bed and one small chair. Plus a few shelves above her head like she can get to them. She will be 90 this August. Does the shock ever wear off? Do you ever get used to that whole scene? Every time I walk in there, it reminds me of having to go see my alcoholic/abusive step-father that we had to institutionalize in a VA hospital after he had a stroke and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It is seriously making me have nightmares and my PTSD is really causing me issues because of the flashbacks of me walking down those halls and seeing those patients.

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I hate to tell you this, but you will probably never get used to seeing your mother in that environment. It sounds like she was active in the decision to place her there, so that is a blessing in itself. My mother is in a very nice assisted living facility and hates it. I think I would rather she be happy than for me to like the environment. Sometimes, we have to do things to keep our loved ones safe. And although it may not be ideal, if your mother is safe and cared for then believe she is in the right place. Now after saying all that, I know it hurts that you weren't included in the decision. However, being the one who made the decision to place my mother with no real help from anyone...I don't feel any better about it. It is a terrible thing that our parents can't just grow old and die in their own homes, but for you and me it's a fact of our lives. Take care and I hope you find peace with the situation.
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Our society has chosen to place our respected elders in nursing homes due to the fact of an aging group; children can't take care of their parents or won't. Society as a whole has abrogated their responsibilities. If elders are well supported by family, religious organizations and the community, many elders are accepting of the nursing home environment but that means they are TAKEN to church, out for meals, their rooms as stimulating as possible with attractive curtains and matching sheets and bedspreads, pictures on the wall, a bird feeder near the window, a large mirror for grooming, very colorful and attractive clothing, a beautiful recliner chair, a satellite radio for their favorite music and radio shows of the past. Families must visit on a daily basis. Families are responsible for helping with personal cares, i.e. combing hair, cleaning fingernails, checking toenails and checking dental needs. Families must keep drawers and closets cleaned and free of clutter. Take your elder out for a massage or chiropractor one time a month and learn how to do reflexology on the feet. Purchase good oils from a health food store to give back rubs and oil the arms and legs as most elders skin is very dry. Now, If family does all that, there is no time to "see" what else is going on in the nursing home. FOCUS on your family member. This is your last opportunity to care for your elder just as they spent years in caring for
you. Caring for elders is a spiritual journey. Every visit is a blessing!
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Sak9, you must live in a different world than everyone else. Each answer you provide is full of unrealistic expectations and "suggestions". Nursing homes don't allow you to bring your own curtains, sheets & bedspreads - they have to change those daily sometimes, and they aren't about to take the time to figure out which pattern belongs to whom. Due to size restrictions, you can't bring your own furniture either, with the exception of (possibly) a very small bookcase that is out of the way of wheelchairs, gurneys, etc. If there is a medical emergency, they need to get in and out as quickly as possible -they don't want any extra "stuff" in their way.
@AnArmyWife - I have seen nursing homes as you describe, and I have also seen better ones. I suspect your mother (adopted or not, she's still your mother) was placed where she was able to go financially. Do you have any relationship with the person who has POA? Perhaps you could talk to him/her & ask why she was placed there, and if possible, can you find a different (happier) home together for your mom??
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The way that you deal with it is knowing that she is in the right place.

First of all, did the POA and your mother check out the nursing home? Did they check the online reviews at the Medicare website? Was this your mother's choice or was it pushed on her by the POA?

Secondly, it sounds to me like a lot of what you are feeling has to do with the guilt of knowing your Mom is in a ‘home’, that you should take her home with you and care for her. I think the best way for you to deal with the PTSD and start feeling better about the nursing home is if you started to get to know the staff at the nursing home.

When you start to know the head nurse in your mother’s wing as well as the staff on a first name basis it personalizes the care and will make you feel better…I know it did for me.

Even though your Mom is already there, I would go and speak to the administrator and ask for a tour of the facility as well. Even though you didn’t pick the facility you still want to know your Mom is in a safe place. After all, do you really think you will be the first person to make a request like this?

Some of the things that you should ask about...

1) The type of care that your Mom is getting.
2) The food that is served and if your Mom has a choice in what she is served.
3) What type of recreation and other activities are available.
4) Why all of those people are in the hallway in the wheelchairs (it is because they cannot be left alone in their rooms…the staff has to be in a position to monitor them. That will be the answer but feel free to ask anyway)
5) Can you participate in a care plan meeting to know what is going on with Mom?

Personally, I think that one of the best things that you could do is participate in a care plan meeting for your own peace of mind.

A care plan meeting is when you meet with the head nurse, doctor and physical therapist (in my care plan meeting for Mom even the recreational director was there) and everything that is going to be done to take care of your mother will be discussed.

Let me give you my personal experience with the care plan meeting…because when I tell you the full story you will see how it was more of a benefit for me as opposed to my mother.

I sat in that meeting with the people listed above and discussed my mother’s ailments, pains, medications (and asked about cross medication issues). I went over the physical therapy schedule and made arrangements for Mom to participate in some of the activities there to ward off depression and anxiety.

I brought a big list of items with me and felt so relieved when the meeting was wrapping up. Then as we were closing I turned to Mom asked her if there was anything she wanted to bring up. And she said there was one thing that disappointed her about the nursing home.

SHE COULDN’T WATCH THE “LAW AND ORDER” MARATHON ON TUESDAYS BECAUSE SHE WAS BROUGHT TO THE TV ROOM!!!!!!!! (I kid you not...that was her concer. Not the food, the staff...it was "Law and Order")

So we made arrangements for her to be left in her room for “Law and Order Tuesday” as long as she promised not to try and get up from her wheelchair (they put an alarm on the wheelchair for this reason).

So the care plan meeting was a relief for me…I got more out of it than Mom…and I think being a little more involved with the nursing home staff will do you wonders.
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Just placed my mother in a nursing home after 15 years of taking care of her. She is in rehab now and will be placed when she is done. I see all the things you see. She is a very proud woman and she does not see herself like the others in there,but she is. I am a only child and our relationship over the years has been difficult. I even was in therapy for a little bit which help me to deal. I am one of the ones that she didn't take care of me but I am taking care of her. Ihate leaving her in an environment she isnt happy with,but she requires too much care for assisted living. It is a tough, terrible thing no matter what position you held in the move. I thought taking care of her was bad especially at the end, but now the guilt just eats my insides up.
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I go see my mom everyday on my lunch hour. I rub her hands and feet with lotion to keep them moist. I brush her dentures. She is able to be taken out yet, but I will say she does not want to go out because of her incontinence.My husband and I both are only children his mom is 88 and healthier than mine she lives next door. My issue I believe will be her in a room with a roomate. She is not very social and as I said before really does not see herself like the others. I will say she did make an appointment to have her hair done there and will go back again this Thursday.
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These are all so wonderful and sad answers. A few years ago as a doctor I was asked to visit some nursing homes in consultation and was appalled. So please listen to these folks who have ideas to help you improve her time and yours. I know this, from some visits to rehab centers......you have to watch their health......me? I moved my mom into my house and that is also very hard.
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I have to say when I first read Sak9 response it bothered me, but I went and read her bio and she worked in a nursing home for many years. Even if it sounded harsh and unrealistic, I assume that she has seen it from the other side. I can be very defensive about my mama and her situation because I am doing the best I can and do not want to be judged. I feel very guilty about my mama and I wish it could be different...but such as life.... she requires so much more care than I can provide. Some of her suggestions were unrealistic especially where my mama is,but some were helpful...birdfeeders etc...
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My mother is in a nursing home due to Alzheimer's. I struggle with her being there, thinking I can "save" her by bringing her home, but I can't. My house is not set up for an elderly person ( steep stairs, etc.) and she has already fallen several times in the past. When I see her in the nursing home I know it is best for her to be there because of the help she gets, but it pains me to see her where she shares a room with someone who doesn't speak, has no room even for a recliner, cannot go out in to the main area and "curl up" on a sofa, like I get to do at home, to watch tv, or whatever may make her comfortable. We take for granted the little pleasures we have because we live in our own home. To see a loved one in this type of situation is extremely difficult. There are few alternatives in our current society. I would literally have to quit my job and buy a new home to take care of her. And there will come a time, probably soon, that I would have to place her in a nursing home anyway because of her needs for care. I don't see it getting any easier. I guess you just make sure she is being taken care of, visit her as often as you can and take her out if possible, and try to make her room as cozy as possible. We just bought a flat screen to put in her room. When my grandmother was aging, (and I believe she had Alzheimer's too, or some form of dementia) she lived in a private home that was a boarding home. A family took care of her and 1 or 2 other elderly people. It seemed a whole lot nicer. But again, if someone needs a lot of personal care with ADL's, etc., that may not even be an option. Too bad we don't have some of those kinds of homes, though. There seems to be a gap between assisted living and nursing homes.
I understand your pain and am struggling with the same thing myself.
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Take time out of your life and the only thing you can do is look around for something better. Call look up on line for a (senior placement) in your area these people help persons like you and me I was in the same shoe as you and that's all they do is help and specialize in placing seniors in a place you would like please look into this they can help and give you options to place your Mother. Or (aging adult services) they can help you and have someone call you as well. Hope this helps.
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