Spending Time With Your Family at the Nursing Home
Once your family member has taken up residence in a nursing home, it is very important to keep the other people in your family involved with him or her. One of the difficulties with this is that younger children don’t necessarily feel that going to a nursing home holds the same attraction as going to an amusement park. Seeing elderly people who are ill may be frightening to them. It will be very difficult for them to listen to the sounds of residence who may be uncomfortable or in pain. Nursing homes also very frequently have unpleasant aromas. If you are not careful, your family member could easily become cut off and isolated from the children in your family.
It is critical to not only keep your loved one involved with the family but to also keep the family involved with him or her. Start by explaining to children what they can expect to experience in a nursing home. You can help them understand and empathize by relating to times when they didn’t feel well. Explain to them that when they had a stomach ache and cried or were vomiting that you had compassion for them and cared for their needs. You can help them take pride in being mature people who shows compassion when someone else isn’t feeling well.
I strongly advocate attaching bribes to the visit. I don’t mean open bribes such as if you do this, then I will reciprocate with… I mean enticing children with certain special treats that only happen on the occasions when you go to the nursing home. Your children will come to associate these special treats with nursing home visits. You could pick up a very special bakery item that you only get when you are going to visit Grandpa to share with him. You could buy some new toy or book that your children are taking to share with your relative. This will override help override some of the unpleasant sites, sounds and smells associated with the visit and give younger family members some positive memories attached to the visits.
Besides all the unpleasantness, younger family members may simply not know that to speak to an aging person about. When I was a child, my maternal great-grandmother was still living until I was about 10 years old. She lived with my grandmother who would bring her to our house when she would visit. I felt no natural connection to this woman because of the age gap. I was an active child who was interested in running and playing with my friends. I had no interest to sit on the porch with an elderly woman who sat quietly in her chair. She couldn’t get up without the use of her cane and some assistance. She spoke slowly and not clearly about things I didn’t know about or care about. Spending time with her held almost no appeal for me.
With intense prodding from my grandmother, I would go and sit with her for a few snatched moments. But I think the time could have been more enjoyable with better instruction on what to talk about or a chaperon to aid the conversation. The worlds that we were living in were much farther apart than the 80 something years that separated us. It takes enormous willpower and creativity to enter the boundaries of another world. Your family members will need help to take on this task
This will take effort on your part. You will also have to coach your children on what to talk about. Spend some time recalling events in your parent’s life that they can reminisce about. Plan out a few current event topics in your children’s lives that they will want to discuss with your parent. In this way you will get them to enter into each other’s worlds. With enough effort and creativity you may even encourage your child to request visits to the nursing home.
Article by: A. McClenahan
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