Admitted to a Nursing Facility and Aging

The early days after admission to a skilled nursing facility are often critical to the newcomer. The anxiety surrounding the older person’s separation from his home, personal possessions and the dread of what may await him, may eventually intensify.

It is this time when a facility should be expressing their concern for this individual’s state of mind and how they plan to deal with it. Without a well thought out care plan there can be an unintentional disruption to the newcomer’s previous life that may leave him no opportunity of moving forward and settling into a new environment.

This is a radical change from where the elderly person first lived. Therefore it is vital that a suitable ‘home’ be carefully selected by a concerned relative, confidant or caregiver.

Daily facility practices may not always be clear at the start. For the newly admitted resident it may appear that there is very little he is expected to do in the first several days of the admission.

Facility life can be marked by confusion and excessive caution (i.e.: “What if I do something wrong and make staff angry”), and by little incidents that unfairly establish an early reputation that sticks (i.e.: she is a stubborn one or she appears confused”).

However a move to a nursing facility can also be softened in many other ways. For example, the admitted resident should be encouraged to bring several of his personal possessions which can alleviate his anxiety and heighten a sense of continuity.

Another important issue that needs to be addressed is excessive familiarity between resident and staff. Staff are not always aware of the crisis of identity that exist between them and the resident who already is experiencing a loss of residence. This can be explained when a perfect stranger may bypass the resident’s proper name and proceed to a first name greeting without permission from that resident. Mrs. Jones is transformed into Elizabeth or more likely into Beth or even Betsy. She may further be reduced to an all-purpose…dear, honey, ‘luv’ or grandma.

In conclusion, although all of the above are issues and problems that beset even the best rated of facilities, they are problems that are approachable when dignity, compassion and concern are utilized. I commend those administrators, nurses and staff who are constantly evaluating and resolving these issues to the benefit of those they are sworn to care and comfort. I applaud them for their efforts and professionalism.

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