By francy Dickinson www.seniorcarewithspirit.com
Dear Francy: Mom in-law is in care facility and we’re visiting twice a week. It’s clean and she seems well fed but angry. Her dementia is still raging and she took a fall out of her bed and hit her head two days ago. How can I help keep her safe and sound in the care facility?
Here are a few tips:
- Visiting twice a week is very good. Change your days and your times, so you’re there, but not on a routine. That way you can see the progression of the daily care staff, as the weeks go by.
- Check the facility for being clean, the patient room, the eating facility and the public rooms are easy to see. But a walk down the hall will show you how the storage closets are kept orderly, the shower area clean, how the kitchen is run and the pill dispensing cart is being used. You just observe, even if you know nothing about care giving – you will see that organization is the key to good care, and cleanliness is right behind. If you have a question – ask the management about the staff, not the staff. It keeps the resentment from the questioning from reflecting on your senior’s care.
- Do not be afraid to ask for a review of a fall. It should be logged in and reviewed by the staff. If it’s a staff problem you need them to make adjustments to the procedures in the facility and make sure they adjust the monthly payment to reflect any incident that caused harm to the patient. If it’s the patient that is being unwise in their movements or manners, then review how the care staff can make changes to avoid a repeat of the problem.
- Take treats into the staff. This is open to what you like to do yourself. But once a month, I would bake brownies or cookies, or stop off at a special candy store and gather together some treats. You could buy some expensive coffee beans for the lounge or bring root beer and ice cream for a treat in the summer. Be creative, but be smart. Drop them off at the nursing lounge with a thank you card that has the patient’s name and your name. This goes along way for the staff to know you care about them and in turn they will care about you and your senior patient.
- If the patient has dementia/Alzheimer’s let the staff know the real patient as you do. Take in pictures of the patient when they were young and first married, have a little label with names of spouse and family in the picture. Make a copy of a college degree or service certificate, so others visiting for the first time see that a very valuable person is inside of that patient. Honoring who a person is, inside, makes the current situation more understandable to strangers.
- See if you can surround the senior with things that bring a feeling of home. A favored piece of art on the wall and a small shelf with bits and bobs from their collection. A throw that was crocheted by the senior or a book that has always been a favorite. Things from the past will surround a person and give them a feeling of safety. Ask about the rules of the facility and then make the creative side of you bring just the right stuff in to the room to perk it up!
- Always ask the senior what they did yesterday?? Have them tell you what ever they remember. It’s important to take note. If they are abused or do not like things, it will come up in one of these conversations if you keep asking. You can hear what is bubbling inside of them, what bothers them or makes them happy. You do not need to worry about the details; just the feelings you get from the senior.
- Food treats for seniors. If a senior does not have a food restriction, then do bring along something special for them. They may love some chocolate, cracker jacks, or a dinner of food from your family heritage. Heritage food is lost in care centers and still is so important to the senior.
- A small covered jar of wrapped hard candy for visitors or care staff is always a nice lure to get them into the room to check up on the senior
- Take a container of those cleaning wipes and each time you visit. Take them out and go over public surfaces around the senior’s room. A double protection against germs is always good.
- Make sure the senior has a way to call home. If you need to put a large printed sign with your phone number taped to their room phone, do it. If they want a cell phone and are able to use it wisely, do it. They need to have a way to feel connected, not dumped. If that is hard to do, then make a quiet evening time call each night. Set a time that is good for you both and just make it an evening call each evening. The repeat of the calls is what the senior will feel – they can count on you is what they will think. Those are good things.
- Check the senior for signs of red marks on their skin and ask each week if any skin irradiation has shown itself during the week. That is a very important point. Hot spots on older skin are hard to heal, if you catch them before they happen it makes life easier. The skin will show if the staff is not moving the patient around, bathing them carefully, or changing their bladder control products on time. Each time they do a bath, they will make note of the skin problems, you can ask to see that chart and take note that there are none. If they have them, then ask how they are being treated and stay on top of it until it is healed. If it repeats often, there is a care giving problem to be addressed.
- Bladder infections or UTI’s are very common in seniors in care. You want to make sure they have cranberry pills added to their daily intake and you want to know that the infection is being treated, but the cause is researched and addressed.
- Just because the senior is in care, does not mean they cannot add supplements. You can talk to their doctor and supply the supplements for daily dispensing. Turmeric is very popular for dementia and infection treatment…our doctor just added it to the OK list and mom was able to enjoy the supplement each day.
- Remember, the facility wants to have you in charge and up to date, they want you to be involved, so do speak up. Read about your senior’s care and bring up the ideas you gather during the family meetings at the care center. You can have a monthly meeting at the care center if you like. I love them, you keep up with their ideas and how things are going – good stuff.
Hope these ideas help you with your care for your senior in a care center. It is always a hard choice to make when you place them in care. I have a free service for families called Loving Memories it helps family place seniors in good care facilities. We review the senior and their needs and then find a care facility that meets those needs. I also have care tips, workbooks, on demand talk show information and just all around good stuff on my website. Please do visit www.seniorcarewithspirit.com