Dementia: How to Protect Your Family Member in a Nursing Home


How to Protect Your Family Member

in a Nursing Home

Written by: Alan Brady

One of the hardest things to face as an adult is seeing a parent, or other family members grow older—and thus acquire complications. I know, because I’ve been there. It can be a long battle; but it doesn’t mean the end of your relationship with your loved one.

If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, there can be a lot of confusion and heartache circulating your thoughts and actions. The first step you need to do is educate yourself on Alzheimer’s and dementia; this will help you understand what your loved one is going through, and can better prepare you for the progressing steps ahead.

And what if you are not able to be the caregiver for your loved one? Or what if you thought you could handle the new responsibility, only to find it was a little more than you could handle? When do you need to decide if a nursing home is okay for your loved one?

Before the Process

If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia while in the hospital, most doctors or physicians will tell you that you have 24 to 48 hours to find a nursing home. This is not true; you are set that limit because the hospital is paid a flat-fee, and if you stay longer than the allotted time, they have to pay more. Take the time you need to find the appropriate and best care for your loved one.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Nursing Home

You might have heard stories and read news about nursing home occupants who have been mentally, physically, and emotionally hurt by incompetent or uncaring employees and facilities. Family’s that have needed to contact the police or a nursing home abuse attorney to find their family member justice and compensation. It’s an unfortunate fact that your family member might be unable to report how they are treated. This makes choosing the right nursing home vital. This article should ensure that your family member will be placed in a facility that will ensure their care.

Key Points When Choosing a Home

When you’re looking at different nursing homes, there are different things to look at and consider. By taking a look at these points, you’ll know exactly what kind of a home that your loved one is living at.

·         You should start by checking out the Nursing Home Compare program provided by the Medicare website. This online programs allow you to view if they have any recent penalties, what they scored on their last inspection, and how they rate in comparison to other nursing homes in the area.

·         Look at the staffing. Especially if your loved one is diagnosed with dementia—they are going to be in need of constant care. Look at the ratio of aid to patients on the nursing home compare website. Ask the employees how often they switch patients. You can also find this information on the Nursing Home Compare website. You’re paying the money—make sure you are getting what you ask for.

·         Most nursing homes don’t have one committed staff member to one patient. Because staff may switch on your loved one, they may become restless. If you want to discuss this policy, make sure to do so before you decide the nursing home.

·         Look at the room situation. Most nursing homes will have two people sharing a room, each with their own TV. If you are a little weary of it being too loud and too overbearing, talk to the staffing, and ask how this (if at all) it can be accommodated.

·         Take note of the smell. It should smell like a nicely kept home—not either a cleaner bath or a bathroom pit.

·         Look at the activities they have to offer. They should offer more than just a bingo night!

·         Medicare and Medicaid. These are two of the scariest words in health—knowledge is power here. Ask about the coverage offered in the nursing home, and how you can plan out a payment agreement. By knowing every little piece of information that the nursing home offers, you’re preparing yourself for any oversights.

You’ve picked the Home

Now what? You may not know exactly what to do after your loved one is placed in a home, and that’s okay! You need to remind yourself that you aren’t superman, and that you can’t be everywhere at once. Here are some pointers into making sure your loved one receives the best care:

·         Visit as much as you can. It’s been shown those family members that are more active in the patient’s life will receive the best and most attentive care from the staff.

·         Visit during meal time—this way you can see what a day to day routine looks like for your loved one.

·         Bring in their own bedding, pillows, and any furniture that they may find comfort in while they are there. Of course, you’ll need to talk to the staff about things that may not be brought in—but in most cases, these things are allowed, and encouraged.

·         Don’t forget pictures, stuffed animals, etc. These can also be helpful to the staff caring for your loved one—they can bring up other things to talk about besides their daily routine.

·         Write your loved ones name on every item that they bring in (if you can). Theft is a pretty big deal in nursing homes. This way, you can keep track of their belongings.

How to Deal with Dementia

The actual process of dementia can be a struggle to deal with and handle—especially when seeing a loved one go through this disease. By gaining the information from this disease, you’ll be at a better place to help your loved one battle it.

·         Know the progression of the disease: loss of physical ability and memory will fade.

·         Be patient: your loved one will become slower; offer the comfort needed.

·         Be patient with yourself: take breaks, exercise, play games with your loved one. Remember  that you can still have fun with your loved one!

There are obviously many more steps to dealing with and handling dementia with a loved one, but these are key points to remember. By accepting what is happening, by gaining the knowledge, and by being patient with yourself and your loved one, this can be an easier battle. And remember: you are not alone in this.


6 Replies to “Dementia: How to Protect Your Family Member in a Nursing Home”

  1. For-profit versus not-for-profit status also may affect the care provided. Multiple recent studies have shown that not-for-profit facilities have better nurse staffing hours, on average. This is because any profit they make goes back into resident care. Not all for-profit facilities are inherently bad or evil, but the for-profit/not-for-profit status of a facility is a major factor that lots of consumers are not aware of.

    1. HI Ashley
      I understand your point but I also feel I need to say there is money that is spent in non profits that is not necessarily resident specific or enhancing. I personally feel there is mismanagement on both sides of the coins and in no way do I feel the statement is true to say one is better then the other. Each must be assessed for it’s own doing. Thank you for taking the time to share your opinion.


  2. Nice job Alan. The more ‘tips for young players’ we have available, the better. It’s the questions we don’t know we should ask that catch us out in decisions like this one, and most things in life carry the same challenge.

  3. Dear Alan,
    thanks for very good and useful informations -advices. i wish that my husband could read it too…. I have AD but he never read about it.But he does not speak English.We are from Czech Republic.
    With gratitude Nina Baláčková

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