Families with elderly loved ones who live in nursing homes or other care facilities often have mixed feelings as the holidays approach. They may want to bring them home to spend at least a few days with family. However, they may have medical and/or cognitive issues that you’re not equipped to manage.
One concern many families have that causes them to consider bringing a loved one home is staffing issues. If your loved one’s facility is already short-staffed, it will likely be even more sparsely staffed around Thanksgiving and through the New Year. The doctors and nurses your family member knows and trusts may be gone for a week or even longer – replaced by unfamiliar faces with less experienced or not replaced at all. Talk to the management about their holiday staffing plans.
Is bringing them home a good idea?
Before you decide to bring your loved one home, it’s best to talk with the medical professionals who are caring for them. Find out what is involved in their care, if you’re not completely informed about it. Do they require any kind of treatment you might not be able to provide – like injections? If they’re on a special diet, can you maintain that? Do they need help bathing or using the restroom?
Further, is your home safe and accessible for them? Do they need a ramp, expanded doorways or grab bars? If they have cognitive issues, can you ensure that they won’t wander off or get into something toxic? Will the change in location upset them?
Bringing the celebration to them
There are plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays with your loved one in a care facility. You can bring their favorite holiday decorations to decorate their room. The family can take turns visiting them so they’re not overwhelmed. There’s no shortage of festivities in nursing homes over the holidays, so you can join in some of those.
Use this additional time in your loved one’s nursing home to observe and ensure that they (and other residents who may not have visiting family) are being cared for properly. If you observe anything concerning, bring it to the management’s attention. You can also contact Alabama’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman. If you find that your loved one has suffered harm due to neglect or abuse, find out about your legal options.