One significant worry of adults with aging parents is having to making the difficult decision to place them in a nursing or assisted living facility. Once the decision is made, the next step should be to make their new restricted lifestyle as normal and comfortable as possible. This will ease some of the burden on both of you. Following are some ideas on what you can do to accomplish this.
Transform their room
You can change their hospital-like surroundings by bringing some family photos from home to hang in a group on a wall in his or her room. This will allow them to see loved ones at any time and will help make them feel a little less lonely when you are not there.
Bring something from home each visit
Each time you visit, bring from home something of theirs like a favorite afghan or throw, a bright scarf, a piece of jewelry, a new book or magazine (if they are able to read), a favorite plant or anything you know would bring a sense of home to them. On the next visit, switch out what you brought before with something else from home. Check with the nursing facility first to see if there are any restrictions on what you can bring.
Visiting often is a given. It may be hard to fit in your schedule, but try to visit several times a week in order to keep your loved one from feeling lonely or abandoned. Fill them in on what’s happening in your life, ask their opinion on something, tell them about their grandchildren, bring recent pictures to show them, and bring the grandchildren for a visit if possible. Inform all family members, friends, and minister where your loved one is and their room number and encourage them to visit at their convenience.
If your parent or loved one always loved listening to music at home, make sure to place a radio beside their bed and put it on their favorite station. Music has a calming and healing effect if they enjoy it.
Tabletop aquarium or bird feeder
If the nursing facility allows it, consider buying a tiny tabletop fish bowl with one or two goldfish in it. This will put another living creature in the room with them and bring hours of enjoyment if they are able to watch it. You would need to feed and take care of it when you visit, unless your parent or loved one is able to do this. If they are in a room with a window, see if it is possible to place a birdfeeder outside so they can watch the birds.
Send personal mail
To keep your loved one in contact with the outside world as much as possible, send him or her card every holiday. A couple of weeks before their birthday contact friends and family through phone calls, e-mails, or church bulletins to ask them to mail them a birthday card, and if possible to include a short note or a photo.
It is never easy to see a parent or loved one have to be isolated from the world because of injury or disease. However, by being a little creative and willing, you can find ways to bring the world to them and keep them involved in life as much as possible.