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My dad has been in the nursing home for a month and seems to be adjusting quite well. He is gaining weight and looks good. My dad has late stage dementia and communication has gotten difficult. He looks like he wants to talk, but can't get the words together. I'm the one that feels abandoned! After living with my dad for 2 1/2 years, 24/7, I'm feeling cut off from his new life. I am the widowed, only child and I work Monday - Friday. I try to get there several times a week. Sometimes my visits seem to upset him and he thinks of excuses for me to leave. I went one evening and he was getting ready for bed and was asleep by the time I got into his room. I ask his techs & nurses how he's doing and they say he's doing great, going to some activities... Is there one person I can contact and ask how he's doing? If he needs anything? I feel like there should be some sort of a handbook for the caregivers: Now That Your Loved One is in a Nursing Home and let us know what they want us to do.

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Having worked in Social Services for many years, I know she or he can help you! ALSO, be sure to meet the Director of. NURSING , as she should be able to tell you his medical update, and also getting you when his Care Planning day will be so that you can attend. Also their should be a Resident Council ran usually by the Activity person or Social Service dept. H ole this helps. LET me know how things are going.Rita B GCM
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Having worked in Social Services for many years, I know she or he can help you! ALSO, be sure to meet the Director of. NURSING , as she should be able to tell you his medical update, and also getting you when his Care Planning day will be so that you can attend. Also their should be a Resident Council ran usually by the Activity person or Social Service dept. H ole this helps. LET me know how things are going.Rita B GCM
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Lots of good suggestions above. Just want to add that a Caregivers Support Group can be very helpful as well. The ALZ Assoc. sponsors several and they are a great way to share ideas, get support, feel like you're not alone, and learn about the disease. It sounds like you're doing a great job caring for your dad. http://www.alz.org/apps/we_can_help/support_groups.asp
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The NH my Dad is in sends me a notice every month for a meeting. Maybe they do that at your Dad's home too. Just ask. Also check to see if they have a monthly meeting for all family members. You can always ask the head nurse or the aids anything you want. As far as it being weird with you Dad that is how it is with me too. My Dad has his eyes closed the whole time I'm there. It's ok though, he's 92. They just want to sleep. It's called getting old. I visit for 15 minutes or so 3 times a week. I tell him I'm just checking on him and ask if he needs anything. Also if your Dad likes get him a bird feeder outside his window. My Dad loves that. You should have POA for him. Medical and financial.
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I agree with LuAnn that the social worker would be a good person to contact. My mom lived in a nursing home for 2 1/2 years with advanced dementia (after living with me and living in assisted living), and I know that it can be very confusing to figure out who to go to for which questions. If the staff hold care plan meetings for your father, you should be invited to join them (if you can get a couple of hours off of work to go there and back). That's a great way to get to know who does what. Also, the head nurse on Mom's floor was a key contact person for me if I had questions about Mom's physical care. And if any of your concerns are not addressed, you can speak with the director, or ask your local Office for the Aging for the name of the ombudsman for that facility, who can either just listen to your concerns, or be an advocate for you as you speak with the staff. Your dad is lucky that you live nearby and can visit as often as you do. Even though he has trouble communicating, I am sure that at some level he knows you are special to him, and you help to bring some happiness into his life. Now that you are not taking care of him 24/7, you can relax and enjoy his company, even if it's just simple things like going outside, listening to music, or holding his hand. I wish you the best.
--author, "Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter's Memoir"
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Having been there and experienced my mother in a nursing facility, since your father is entering into the later stages of dementia, he really doesn't need anything except water, food and the social life where he is. He may not know who you are, but PLEASE do not take any of his actions personally. He is not responsible for you any longer and you need to start breaking away and imagining what life will be without him, because he is going to die one day. Visit him when you can manage and call the nurses station and just ask how he is doing. You cannot do anything for him that is not already being done. He cannot talk to anyone because his brain cannot process the five steps it takes in order to process talking. Just know he is in his own twilight world now and he will soon be out of pain. My blessings to you both.
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My problem is the complete opposite...my father has been in a nursing home due to Parkinson's and some dementia and he wants me there 24/7. We have lived together all my life and he's having difficulty with not having me there. All the nurses and aids love him and if I have to call there, I ask for the nurse's station and one of them will pick up and give me any info I need. You can call the case worker there and see if you can have a phone conference call with his nurse once a month to get a status update. I'm sure they will accommodate you however they can. You should be thrilled that your Dad is getting used to his surroundings and isn't asking to come back home.
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P.S. Your social worker is also responsible for obtaining your dad's social history and I'm wondering if that has been done or if they relied on your dad to report his history. You might just want to ask...
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I use to work as a social worker in a nursing home and it would break my heart to think that my families didn't know they could always come to me with any questions or concerns. So please go to your social worker and talk with him or her. Get to know them; they are your advocate and support person. Having said that not all social workers are created equal so you may have to get creative to find your support person.

I tell families all the time to find the person in the facility that you connect with and trust. That may be the evening or weekend charge nurse for you. The charge nurse can be your first contact and be able to answer specific questions related to care. Ask her for feedback about your visits. Does dad seem upset when I leave? How is he sleeping? etc...

Also, make sure you receive an invitation to his quarterly care conference. Every quarter your dad is assessed by the dietician, social worker, activities person and nurse. The care conference is scheduled after that assessment and you should be invited to attend those. That's a great opportunity to get to know the staff and obtain information from those assessments.

I hope this helps in some small way. It's never easy...
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I agree with LovingMom - my Dad has been in a NH for two years now. I can talk to the social worker or I call the main desk on his floor and just say how is he doing. They will call me if he loses more than 3 lbs in a month, if they need to change is meds, etc... but generally, no news is good news. Give yourself a break. Sounds like he is doing fine. I know my Dad tells my mother to leave every time she goes to feed him, because she represents independence, something he longer has.
If you are feeling guilty, please don't. You did the right thing. Create a schedule for yourself, when you will go see him, maybe just twice a week and get on with your life.

xo
-SS
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I find the same thing with my mom's nursing home. There is not one designated contact. There is a social worker, and I talk to the women at the desk as they answer the phone. They often tell me she is doing well. Occasionally I can talk to a nurse but they are busy. The nursing homes should have a contact person for families and they should make it easy for us to ask one person questions.
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are you his poa? if yes they you can call the nursing home and check on him everyday, be notified anytime anything happens and medication changes, what ever you want, my mom just went into a nursing home, i am her poa, they must tell me anything i want to know and i dicitate what is allowed and what is not, hope this helps you
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You know, there must be an activities director in a nursing home right? Someone that organizes the singing etc. so that's who I'd talk to.
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