Patients are not the only ones who have a tough time getting used to life in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Families are often at a loss with how to deal with a chaotic situation and often find themselves fighting with each other as they struggle to cope.
Forbes’ recent article, “How Nursing Homes Can Destroy Families,” says that we depend on the people with the most experience to help us through this. However, it does not always work out for the best. In that case, as the situation for a loved one continues to deteriorate and as family members try to address mounting issues, it can take a toll on relationships. Let’s look at some of the factors:
Poor Organization and Misinformation. See if there’s a clear chain of command at the nursing home and find out who you should contact with your questions. Establish a relationship one person who works there that you and your family can have as a primary contact in order to avoid confusion. There may be a high turnover rate among employees, some may be unsure of their own roles. Whether the staff members are new, poorly trained, or even disinterested in their positions, this is problematic because you’re relying on these employees for critical information. So, try to maintain contact with the highest-level staff member and secure a secondary contact. Also, make sure to keep information written down in an organized fashion so that you are able to reference it, this is especially handy if you need to delegate to another family member or the staff member(s) you are connected with leaves. You may consider making email your primary mode of contact, so you have a written record of everything that’s been said. That record may be valuable in the future.
Staffing Problems. As mentioned, nursing homes struggle to keep employees, especially the good ones. You may quickly see how much this impacts the quality of care at many different levels for your loved one. This could present itself in poorly maintained rooms or poorly maintained records. An understaffed senior residence can be a dangerous place. However, there may be little that you can do. This isn’t an uncommon issue and seniors could end up left being neglected. Make the effort to be friendly with the staff and show them you’re invested. It will send the message that you’re kind but persistent.
Family Fighting. Families can battle over the care plan or squabble over assets, and tempers may flare. The nursing home setting may worsen this dynamic. In addition to the frustration with any gaps in care, family members may find themselves arguing about all sorts of issues.
Medical Malpractice. In some instances, a nursing home resident can be physically or mentally harmed by negligent medical care.
An elder law attorney will be able to help you navigate through certain challenges of dealing with the nursing home. She or he will also be able to refer you to a social worker outside of the nursing home who will be able to help your family address the emotional stress that often accompanies this type of situation.
Good nursing homes and Family Care Meetings at Family Estate Planning Law Group mean many of our clients and their families have been fortunate enough to have their loved ones cared for in good and even great nursing homes. In those instances, our clients have been safe and oftentimes thrive as they are being active and socializing rather than being alone for long periods of time at home unsupervised. Although this is a difficult situation for the family and everyone might have different opinions, we work to bring families together and make sure they are on the same page. We do this through our Family Meeting. This allows families to come together with not only each other, but also the other professionals involved in family financial affairs. Questions can be asked and wishes can be expressed.
Make sure that if you have family members that might be nearing the age of entering a nursing home that you are able to attend a family meeting. This will mitigate family fighting and help make the nursing home experience easier on the one(s) in the facility and on the family members who are helping out.
For more information on elder care and on the Family Meeting, visit our website today to schedule your consultation!
Reference: Forbes (April 28, 2018) “How Nursing Homes Can Destroy Families”