Helping my LBD Mom Enjoy her new Norm

Linda H., at her stage of LBD, has moved from nearly full time home care to full time nursing home care. We hadn’t realize that she had reached a stage where being alone frightened her. Her favorite place, now, is to sit by the nurses’ station, surrounded by her former profession. She eats well and enjoys being in the company of other residents. She also goes to many activities, though it is hard for her to participate. Why then did I get a call from a social worker asking to transfer her somewhere else?

These days’ nursing homes are getting many residents at various stages of senility and dementia. I agree, some patients do need an extreme level of security and care. Most, however are just blissfully trying to enjoy themselves at their level of cognitive ability. They don’t ask for much more than to be treated like adults, to be treated humanely and to be in easy reach of ice cream. Being around LBD for 15 years, I thought that the medical community was ready for the cognitive care deluge. Don’t be surprised if, as a family caregiver, you may have a thing or two to teach the system.

Once assistant living situations are tapped out, nursing homes are often these residents “dorm of choice.” The nurses and staff need help though, adjusting to the new cognitive norm. Even in the last six months, I have seen a huge change in attitude. The call to ask my mother to transfer made me challenge their level of understanding. I pushed backed on why my mother was being treated different, when some senile patients were, in some cases, more difficult to handle. Both Federal and State regulations guarantee that long term care (LTC) residents are: Treated with consideration, respect and in full recognition of his/her dignity and individuality. They are to be free from chemical restraints and shouldn’t be neglected or become a victim of involuntary seclusion.

As a family caregiver, don’t underestimate your skills and training in dementia care. Share that knowledge with the staff. Don’t be afraid to volunteer with a group activity, engage in a casual conversation with another resident, donate items that residents might like or say something, if a resident can’t advocate for themselves. Statistics say that as many as 70% of us are going to need some nursing home care. Start improving the quality of nursing home care today, by raising the bar with your own engagement. Thank you.

Karen E.

Jun 26, 2019