Part one of a three part series
By Micha Shalev
Most of us dread the thought of permanently moving a loved one into a skilled nursing facility, and this sentiment doesn’t change for those who are fortunate enough to have a selection of stellar facilities from which to choose. As caregivers, even though we are fully aware of our individual limitations, it means giving up a certain amount of direct oversight and control. We also know deep down that this move is an admission that our loved one has passed a certain point in their health where returning home or resuming even a few aspects of self-care is no longer a possibility. This transition is a direct dose of reality for everyone involved.
Before moving in
Be sure to visit the room your loved one will move into (or one very similar to it) to get a feel for the amount of floor and storage space there is. There must be enough room to maneuver a wheelchair or other mobility aid and for caregivers to safely transfer and care for your loved one. Check to see if the facility will remove and store the provided nightstand, chest or chair so that personal pieces of furniture can be brought in. If this is an option, make sure that none of these items encroach on a roommate’s space or limit mobility within the room. Asking for a floor plan and measurements (or taking your own) will help ensure your loved one’s belongings fit without crowding the room.
Ask questions about items and services the facility provides that are included in the monthly fee. The following are common questions that can reveal a great deal about what supplies may need to be purchased or left at home. It can also expose services and items that come at an additional cost.
- Are bedding and towels provided?
- Is the laundering of linen included?
- Does my loved one’s room have cable, and is it included in the monthly cost?
- What about local and long-distance telephone service?
- Is there public and/or secure Wi-Fi access available?
- Can personal laundry services be added for an additional fee?
- Is a corkboard or whiteboard provided for posting calendars, reminders and pictures?
- Do they provide a wall clock, TV or any personal care products?
- Can you bring a small refrigerator?
Every skilled nursing facility (SNF) is different. No family member wants to receive an expensive surprise when they get the first bill and discover that all the services they thought were included were optional extras.
What to pack
Aside from making the decision to move your loved one into a SNF, helping them pick and choose what to pack and what to purge is one of the most difficult parts of this transition. Caregivers often help their family members sort through homes, garages and storage units full of belongings, furniture and family heirlooms. Most seniors have been collecting personal items for decades, and it can be difficult for them to simultaneously “lose” their home and most of their possessions.
Many caregivers enable their loved ones to hold onto some family heirlooms, seasonal clothing and décor, valuables, and other important belongings by storing them at their own home, dispersing them among trusted family members or renting a storage unit. This helps elders feel they still have access to their possessions or at least that these things have been passed on to individuals who will cherish and respect them.
Part two of this series will appear in the May issue of the Fifty Plus Advocate.
Micha Shalev MHA CDP CDCM CADDCT is the owner of Dodge Park Rest Home and The Adult Day Club at Dodge Park located at 101 Randolph Road in Worcester. He is a graduate of the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners program, and well known speaker covering Alzheimer’s and Dementia training topics. The programs at Dodge Park Rest Home specialized in providing care for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The facility is holding a free monthly support group meeting on the 2nd Tuesday of each month for spouses and children of individuals with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease. He can be reached at 508-853-8180 or by e-mail at [email protected] or view more information online at www.dodgepark.com.