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Old 10-08-2019, 03:15 PM
Urbanredneck is offline
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Lonely in a nursing home?


Why are some people in nursing homes "lonely"? Meaning little or no family ever visits them?

The popular idea is their kids are cruel and just dumped them off and dont care.

However other reasons:

1. No family such as never had children or all children gone.
2. Was always a "loner".
3. Family lives far away and cannot visit.
4. Wasn't very nice to children or did some bad things to them so they have little or no desire to spend time with them.

What do you all think?
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:20 PM
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You listed the main reasons. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction in these facilities, loneliness just adds to that. It sucks to get old, it gets worse when your freedom is limited, you aren't living with family, you face health problems, and you see nothing better in your future. Then start adding on loneliness, monotony, and then possibly poor treatment by staff and other residents and things look pretty bad.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:40 PM
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My father lives in, not exactly a nursing home, but what's called a "memory care" home. Physically he's in pretty decent shape (for 86). He does suffer from senile dementia and cannot live on his own. He's been there since January.

He has frequent visitors. I live not too far away (in NYC), as does one of my brothers. He has a (very much younger) sister who splits her time between Cambridge, MA and Brooklyn, and she visits pretty often.

He has two other children, who do not live nearby. One, who lives in the South, visits every four or five months. There's a daughter who has never visited. I don't know what her story is.

But there are residents there who have never, as far as I can tell, had a visitor.

I do not understand how a family could abandon someone like that, no matter what has happened in the past. Yes, I know that there are things that are so bad that the children/siblings/whatever never want to see that person again, but not everyone in this place can be a child molester or whatever.

Last edited by Saintly Loser; 10-08-2019 at 03:41 PM.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:09 PM
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I have been in about 10 different nursing homes in my life. 3 were for family the others were for other people (parents of friends, church etc).
I wouldn't wish that existence on my worst enemy. I am not 100 % sure of the total time someone is committed to one and the time they die. I am pretty sure it is less than a year. My own father lasted less than 3 months. The reason no one is happy in a nursing home is you know there is no other alternative and people don't tend to go until they have exhausted every other preferred living arrangement.
Also no one has mentioned the simple fact of just how expensive they are.

Last edited by sjankis630; 10-08-2019 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 10-08-2019, 07:26 PM
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I do not understand how a family could abandon someone like that, no matter what has happened in the past. Yes, I know that there are things that are so bad that the children/siblings/whatever never want to see that person again, but not everyone in this place can be a child molester or whatever.
I don't think one needs to be a child molester to be cut off. Just being a general jerk who makes your children's lives less pleasant is a perfectly valid reason for a child to cut off contact and not see a parent again to me - I don't believe blood entitles someone to treat another poorly and I don't believe kids owe anything to parents for raising/supporting them in childhood (something it is both the parents' duty and legal obligation to do and that the child had zero say in). And if they have cut off contact, they wouldn't even know parent was in nursing home.

But there are so many in-betweens, too. From parents who stole kids' identities and ran up debt to those who sabotaged romantic relationships or education plans to those who just berated the kids constantly and so on and so on.

Last edited by Tzigone; 10-08-2019 at 07:27 PM.
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Old 10-08-2019, 07:30 PM
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Possible reason 5 - Has completely unrealistic idea of how safe they would be if allowed to go home and therefore spends all of every visit begging or raging to go home.
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Old 10-08-2019, 07:52 PM
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Some WAGs:

Family lives nearby, but they stay away because the nursing home creeps them out. Or seeing their infirm loved one creeps them out.

Family lives nearby, but they stay away because they don't realize their loved one is so lonely. Like, maybe before he went into the nursing home, Uncle Leo was a big social butterfly, always staying busy with this or that, always with his running buddies. Maybe Uncle Leo was the type to stay for Christmas dinner just long enough to have dessert, and then he was always off to another party. So the family is used to thinking of Uncle Leo as someone who loves them, but isn't emotionally dependent on them. They may believe that just visiting him at the nursing home at Christmastime is all he really wants or needs. And he might be too prideful to admit to them that he's lonely.
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Old 10-08-2019, 08:02 PM
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I was estranged from my father for the last year or so before he died, and my sister and my mother for longer times than that. With me, what it came down to was that I told him to accept the VA's offer of mental health care (which he very much needed), and he said that he would instead take the advice of men he respects. I.e., not me. So I told him that if he respects me, he needs to prove it by taking my advice, and that I wouldn't talk further with him until he told me that he was accepting mental health care. I'd hoped that it would shock him into taking action. It didn't work.

For my mom, a few years earlier than that, the complete breaking point (long after the separation, divorce, and annulment) came when he asked for her help with grocery shopping (he takes pride in being clueless about "women's work" like that), and when she did so, he referred to it as a "date". She decided that she couldn't let him keep misconstruing things that way.

For my sister, several years earlier than Mom, it came one Christmas, when she wanted a certain power tool. But he couldn't bring himself to give a tool to a woman, so he instead addressed it to "<oldest daughter>'s younger brother". Who didn't even exist, at the time. Meanwhile, he also ignored my sister's very clear and simple request for <oldest daughter>'s present, and ended up giving her a second copy of a VHS tape that she already had.
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Old 10-08-2019, 08:10 PM
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Deafness, hearing issues even with hearing aides means so many residents are totally isolated from their peers there. The other hearing residents are not interested in conversation. Add dementia issues and they are indeed lonely in their isolation. Even when family visits. For us, we only dare visit Mom one at a time because she gets very very angry when we speak to each other in her presence. And it's a huge chore to visit. She stinks, body odor, bad body odor. Staff can only do so much.we can do just a little to clean her up before she gets combative.
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:31 PM
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Even if they have 5 children who spend two hours a week with them it doesn't really add up to much. Once they lose the ability to run simple errands or do even the smallest activities, there are a lot of hours to fill.
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:48 PM
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Well there are two theories. One is that I am a horrible ungrateful girl who was born bad. The other is that my mother really screwed up while raising me. Or maybe it's both!

At any rate, I did visit her; I took her grandchildren to visit her. I didn't do this often, because it was no accident that I had moved 1000 miles away as soon as I could. I don't know that the visits did much for her, and they didn't do much for me. Maybe alleviate some of that guilt for being a horrible ungrateful kid who was born bad.

The other non-visitors were just mean people who had a grudge against her for some reason or another. Or they were raised badly and just couldn't be bothered to show up for a visit. Because they were selfish. Whatever.

Last edited by Hilarity N. Suze; 10-08-2019 at 09:49 PM.
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:51 PM
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Another issue is where they choose to be for their nursing home. Being in a smaller town might mean flights that are eyewateringly expensive, especially to bring a family. And, of course, Americans don’t get a lot of time off from work. If you’ve got a spouse that wants a romantic getaway every year and then a family vacation every year with the kids, it’s sometimes hard to fit it into the schedule. Even if you’ve earned the time off from work, some bosses are just jerks when you want time off,negotiating peace in the Middle East would be easier than a 3 day weekend.
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:17 PM
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I do not understand how a family could abandon someone like that, no matter what has happened in the past. Yes, I know that there are things that are so bad that the children/siblings/whatever never want to see that person again, but not everyone in this place can be a child molester or whatever.
I can totally understand how someone can make the decision that their presence no longer matters to their severely demented loved one and thus it would be best for their own mental health for them to start the grieving process.

My father's sister has Alzheimers. She doesn't remember him or her doting husband or anyone else. At this stage, she is barely verbal. Despite the long distance, my father visits whenever he can. I think he's awesome for doing that. But one day he told me he doesn't visit her for her sake, but for his own. He'd feel guilty if he didn't visit. Sometimes he doesn't even go into her room; he just looks at her through the window in the door.

I'm not gonna lie. It would be very hard for me to visit any of my immediate family members if they were in a state like my aunt's. I wouldn't have a hard time visiting them if I believed my presence was comforting. But if my presence only brought disorientation and disruption? I can't see myself being strong enough to handle those kinds of visits.
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:24 PM
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I can totally understand how someone can make the decision that their presence no longer matters to their severely demented loved one and thus it would be best for their own mental health for them to start the grieving process.

My father's sister has Alzheimers. She doesn't remember him or her doting husband or anyone else. At this stage, she is barely verbal. Despite the long distance, my father visits whenever he can. I think he's awesome for doing that. But one day he told me he doesn't visit her for her sake, but for his own. He'd feel guilty if he didn't visit. Sometimes he doesn't even go into her room; he just looks at her through the window in the door.

I'm not gonna lie. It would be very hard for me to visit any of my immediate family members if they were in a state like my aunt's. I wouldn't have a hard time visiting them if I believed my presence was comforting. But if my presence only brought disorientation and disruption? I can't see myself being strong enough to handle those kinds of visits.
Yes, I can see that. If you visit and they just go "who are you"?
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:26 PM
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Please watch this video by Reba called "All Dressed Up".
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:14 AM
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Possible reason 5 - Has completely unrealistic idea of how safe they would be if allowed to go home and therefore spends all of every visit begging or raging to go home.
This was my grandmother. She fell, outside, in Ohio in winter, and crawled into the house. And at the time she grudingly agreed to go to a nursing home. There's no one else in the area and moving in with my parents would mean moving several states away where she would know only my parents.

Even when she would have visitors, who would report to my dad that they visited, verified by the nursing home, she would say no one visited her. She wasn't bad enough for the memory unit, but her memory issues were enough that she would forget to eat, take her medicene or forget that she had taken her medicene.

Even the day she died she was saying she was ready to go back home. Her home that had been sold and was being renovated.

And even though she did have visitors, she basically refused to socialize with the other residents, some of whom she had known and visited before she moved in.
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:30 PM
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This was my grandmother. She fell, outside, in Ohio in winter, and crawled into the house. And at the time she grudingly agreed to go to a nursing home. There's no one else in the area and moving in with my parents would mean moving several states away where she would know only my parents.

Even when she would have visitors, who would report to my dad that they visited, verified by the nursing home, she would say no one visited her. She wasn't bad enough for the memory unit, but her memory issues were enough that she would forget to eat, take her medicene or forget that she had taken her medicene.

Even the day she died she was saying she was ready to go back home. Her home that had been sold and was being renovated.

And even though she did have visitors, she basically refused to socialize with the other residents, some of whom she had known and visited before she moved in.
I agree some of these people bring it on themselves by being hard to be around. They throw guilt trips or say bad things or whatever.
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Old 10-09-2019, 03:16 PM
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My mom went into the recuperative care wing of a nursing home for 5 weeks.

It's not much better than a nursing home room except they get physical therapy in recuperative care. Mom finally got well enough to come back home. She had to meet with the doctors and nurses to get cleared for release.

Mom couldn't walk when she went in. She walked out 5 weeks later after a lot of PT.

Last edited by aceplace57; 10-09-2019 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 10-09-2019, 03:33 PM
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The last time I visited my father for Christmas, he and his wife fecked off to a friend's house for 11 hours on Christmas Day, leaving Celtling and I to enjoy our Christmas in their otherwise empty home. I already knew that he held no value at all on spending time with me, but after months of begging and guilting he had convinced me that seeing their Granddaughter actually mattered to them, and I was willing to make the effort to give their relationship a chance. I didn't drive 8.5 hours with a toddler to house-sit on Christmas Day.

This layers, of course, upon a lifetime of miscellaneous violence, neglect and disrespect. People like that don't get more visits.

Last edited by TruCelt; 10-09-2019 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 10-09-2019, 04:34 PM
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This was my grandmother. She fell, outside, in Ohio in winter, and crawled into the house. And at the time she grudingly agreed to go to a nursing home. There's no one else in the area and moving in with my parents would mean moving several states away where she would know only my parents.

Even when she would have visitors, who would report to my dad that they visited, verified by the nursing home, she would say no one visited her. She wasn't bad enough for the memory unit, but her memory issues were enough that she would forget to eat, take her medicene or forget that she had taken her medicene.

Even the day she died she was saying she was ready to go back home. Her home that had been sold and was being renovated.

And even though she did have visitors, she basically refused to socialize with the other residents, some of whom she had known and visited before she moved in.
A good friend of mine is going through this, exactly, with his mother. His mother has been dealing with declining health for years, and suffered several falls that she wouldn't tell her son about (and, as her strength in her arms and legs is gone, she had to call a neighbor to come and help her get up).

She was in an assisted-living home for about a year, but as her condition has continued to worsen, she no longer was independent enough for that home, and had to move her to a full-on nursing home. To be able to afford all that, he had to sell her house, which she continues to complain to him about at every opportunity. She continues to be convinced that it's just a matter of time until she's "gotten better" enough to "go home" again, though I imagine it's just that she hates the fact that she's no longer independent.

The nursing home she's in is about 20 minutes from her son's house, but he isn't able to visit every day, due to work and other life responsibilities, as well as the fact that dealing with her is emotionally taxing as hell for him. She has no other local relatives, and her friends who are still alive are mostly older and infirm, as well, so they rarely visit.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 10-09-2019 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:51 PM
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My MIL spent 6 or 7 years in an assisted living facility. She had friends she could socialize with, decent food in a dining room with the other residents, outings. Much more than if she were living with us, where she would be home alone for most of the day.

She had a gradual but steady decline over that time until she ended up in a nursing home. My wife would visit regularly (at least once a week). Other family not so much. Her decline continued. We would measure her decline by how long it took her to start repeating a conversation. At the beginning it was about 10 minutes. Once it got down to around 2 minutes we realized that she had no idea of time anymore. We started spacing visits out further and further; each visit was identical, no recognition that time had passed. We'd tell her that it had been three weeks since we were there, and it just confused her - weren't we just there the other day?

During this time I had been delaying a job-related relocation across the country. We were worried about how that would affect her, but after flying back to visit her for the first time in three months it was back to "weren't you just here the other day?" At that point we stopped worrying.

Even to the very end she had one or two friends in the nursing home and certain staff members who she really got along with. Her friends were in a similar condition - I can't imagine their conversations. At least they never ran out of things to say...
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:02 PM
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My mom went into the recuperative care wing of a nursing home for 5 weeks.

It's not much better than a nursing home room except they get physical therapy in recuperative care. Mom finally got well enough to come back home. She had to meet with the doctors and nurses to get cleared for release.

Mom couldn't walk when she went in. She walked out 5 weeks later after a lot of PT.
Yes, that's my father. He went from a hospital stay into a residential rehab facility, where he received excellent care and made an amazing physical recovery.

But mentally, he was not able to go back home. He never did -- he went from the rehab place, were he was for a couple of months, to the facility in which he lives now.
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Old 10-10-2019, 05:30 AM
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Yes, I know that there are things that are so bad that the children/siblings/whatever never want to see that person again, but not everyone in this place can be a child molester or whatever.
A parent need not physically molest a child to completely alienate them. a lifetime of thoughtlessly shredding a kid's self-esteem (or deliberately spewing verbal abuse) is plenty of motivation to stay away. On the flip side, there are loving parents who raised children that grew up to be selfish assholes who never visit. Sometimes it's a little bit of both.

In my case, I was blessed with two parents who gave me a great childhood and set me up for a great life, but geography limits how much time I have been able to spend with them in their golden years. My career put me 600 miles away from them, and about a decade ago they moved even farther away from me to live a few miles from my sister, who has been very dedicated to their well-being, visiting them almost daily. We now have one parent left alive, in assisted living, and I try to fly out there about every three months for a long weekend. These are good visits, but a few days' presence followed by ~90 days' absence is still pretty sparse.
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:36 AM
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Neither the parent nor the child have to be bad people. Sometimes the parent doesn't remember how often anyone comes to visit. Even if they do, the number of hours the child can spend with the parent is nothing compared to the number of hours where the parent has nothing to do.

Plus it can be so exhausting. Forcing yourself to visit someone who can only complain that they want to go home, when they never can, or who complains that you never visit them when you are there visiting them, is hard.

My grandmother lived in a nursing home for the last six or seven years of her life. And my parents visited her faithfully every Thursday, and tried to get her out to parties at their house. But they got almost nothing out of it besides the knowledge that they were doing their duty. Her short-term memory was shot, so she couldn't talk about anything that happened more than ten minutes ago, or less than forty years. My folks liked to take me along when I was in town, because I didn't have to hear the same stories as often, and I could get her going on stuff from her life and just let her ramble.

Of course, she had no filter whatever, and didn't recognize that she was talking to her grandson, who didn't necessarily need to hear the details of everything, including my grandparents's divorce and her relationship with her long-time boyfriend and God knows what all. But she was entertained, and it sure killed the hour or so and off-loaded the effort of the visit from my folks.

"I hope I die before I get old" used to sound silly to me, but I am starting to see something in it. My mother-in-law spent hours every day in the nursing home with my father-in-law, for years. Then he died, and the reduction in her stress levels was unmistakeable. But she would never, ever admit it.

So I smoke cigars. If that means I die before my brain does, that's a feature, not a bug.

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Old 10-10-2019, 01:57 PM
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I agree some of these people bring it on themselves by being hard to be around. They throw guilt trips or say bad things or whatever.
If they weren't like that before, or were a bit like that before but are now much worse, this may be caused by dementia. It's not the person saying those things, it's the disease.

That unfortunately doesn't make it easy for either the demented or their friends and family. But it can be a little easier on the latter to know that it's not your mother (or whoever) in their full mind talking to/about you like that. And if that's what's going on, they're not "bringing it on themselves" any more than a person with a broken leg has "brought on themselves" that they can't walk. (Some people, I agree, do bring it on themselves by a history of abuse committed when they were fully themselves.)

Having said that: people do what they can do, but can't do more than that. It's not reasonable to expect family or friends to give their lives over entirely to caretaking or visiting; and any given frequency of visits is going to be a lot harder for some people to pull off than others.
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:37 PM
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In my experience, an elderly relative moving into a nursing home is often preceded by the death of a spouse so they are already dealing with sudden loneliness. Also, at least in my case, there has always been a certain optimism in the back of my mind that I may, possibly, live in a better place someday and I would guess that being put in a home would probably squelch that.
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Old 10-10-2019, 04:19 PM
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My Yaya didn't have any memory problems while in the Old Folks' Home that she hadn't had before. The only day she didn't have any relatives visiting her was on Monday (when she had both a doctor's visit and the hairdresser). And yet, she complained that nobody visited her, or that we didn't visit "enough", or speak of a visit which had taken place within the last few days as if it had taken place back when the first Ramesses was Pharaoh. But you know what? She did the same when she was living in her house. She bitched about everybody and everything; you know what? She did the same when she was living in her house. She considered anything in which she was not interested as a waste of time, resources, money; this included books, news, movies, TV and the life of anybody other than herself. You know what? I imagine by now you do know what...

Last edited by Nava; 10-10-2019 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 10-11-2019, 02:53 PM
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Here is another reason. The staff may go out of their way to discourage visiting. I have a friend whose wife has been in a nursing home for several years with Alzheimer's. He goes to visit every day, but they have increasingly restricted what he can do. He is not allowed in her room. This was precipitated by an incident in which he slammed the door on another resident who was hitting on her (for an 80 something she is quite attractive) and the other guy fell down. He cannot accompany her to the dining room. They claim he is force feeding her. He says he was merely helping her eat. He is not permitted to take her out of the building, which she enjoyed in nice weather. He cannot take her on the stairs (once the elevator refused to work and he did so). He claims they are on the verge of forbidding him to visit entirely. He commented that he sees very few visitors at any time, so their tactics seem to work. The facility has the reputation of being the best one in town.

Some times she recognizes him; oftimes not. Regardless she is constantly begging him to take her home.
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Old 10-11-2019, 03:16 PM
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Way back when I was an orderly in a nursing home or two, I saw first hand what losing friends over and over and over again in a short period of time can do to a person. I was young and healthy, and watching people who I knew on a first name basis die frequently wore on me, so you can only imagine what it does to those who cohabitate in such an environment. Sometimes all it takes to break your heart is a freshly made bed and a naked desk.
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Old 10-11-2019, 03:33 PM
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Way back when I was an orderly in a nursing home or two, I saw first hand what losing friends over and over and over again in a short period of time can do to a person. I was young and healthy, and watching people who I knew on a first name basis die frequently wore on me, so you can only imagine what it does to those who cohabitate in such an environment. Sometimes all it takes to break your heart is a freshly made bed and a naked desk.
My niece's husband is a CNA, and he works in a nursing home. He has one of the biggest hearts I've ever seen, and I know that it really hurts him every time one of his patients dies; he's tried to adopt a detatchment about it ("it happens, it's part of the job,") but I suspect that that continuous series of losses will be what causes him to leave the field.
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Old 10-12-2019, 07:28 AM
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In my experience, an elderly relative moving into a nursing home is often preceded by the death of a spouse so they are already dealing with sudden loneliness. Also, at least in my case, there has always been a certain optimism in the back of my mind that I may, possibly, live in a better place someday and I would guess that being put in a home would probably squelch that.
Yes indeed. My father's first wife (my mother) died quite young in the early 80s. He remarried eventually, and his second wife died just a few years ago, at which point his decline began, which eventually led to him having to live in the memory care home he's at now.

Certainly the death of a spouse can take quite a toll.
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Old 10-12-2019, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
Here is another reason. The staff may go out of their way to discourage visiting. I have a friend whose wife has been in a nursing home for several years with Alzheimer's. He goes to visit every day, but they have increasingly restricted what he can do. He is not allowed in her room. This was precipitated by an incident in which he slammed the door on another resident who was hitting on her (for an 80 something she is quite attractive) and the other guy fell down. He cannot accompany her to the dining room. They claim he is force feeding her. He says he was merely helping her eat. He is not permitted to take her out of the building, which she enjoyed in nice weather. He cannot take her on the stairs (once the elevator refused to work and he did so). He claims they are on the verge of forbidding him to visit entirely. He commented that he sees very few visitors at any time, so their tactics seem to work. The facility has the reputation of being the best one in town.

Some times she recognizes him; oftimes not. Regardless she is constantly begging him to take her home.
I don't know your friend, or his situation, of course, and I am not saying anything about him.

But difficult visitors are a reality.

That said, in the course of moving my father into his new home at the memory care facility, and visiting him there several times a week since January, I have observed that some visitors are extremely difficult for the staff to deal with. Some treat staff members as servants, and make unreasonable demands. Some refuse to observe basic rules that are obviously completely sensible (like notifying staff if a visitor takes a resident out of the facility). Or they'll bring food that is not part of a medically supervised diet. Stuff like that. I'm aware of one family that was ultimately banned from coming as a group because they were so obnoxious. They can come one at a time, or in pairs, but that's all.
  #33  
Old 10-12-2019, 11:43 AM
Anny Middon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sitchensis View Post
Even if they have 5 children who spend two hours a week with them it doesn't really add up to much. Once they lose the ability to run simple errands or do even the smallest activities, there are a lot of hours to fill.
Most nursing homes of any size have a variety of activities available to residents -- bingo, crafts projects, movies, concerts, games, church services, lectures/classes. Staff members are usually good at reminding patients about upcoming activities and encouraging them to attend.
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Old 10-13-2019, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anny Middon View Post
Most nursing homes of any size have a variety of activities available to residents -- bingo, crafts projects, movies, concerts, games, church services, lectures/classes. Staff members are usually good at reminding patients about upcoming activities and encouraging them to attend.
True -- but those activities may or may not be anything that a particular person wants to spend much time at.

If the person's preferred way to spend time was riding horses, or going for long walks whether in the woods or all over downtown, or repairing old cars or old airplanes: being offered bingo games or basic pottery classes may not seem like much of a substitute. Even if the person wants to raise vegetables or play with the cats: while more places do now offer such opportunities, a lot of them don't, or there may be ten square feet of growing area available per person and/or one cat for a couple of hundred people and two dogs who come in for three hours every other week.
  #35  
Old 10-14-2019, 11:41 AM
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Remember when I said the sight of an empty well-made bed can break a heart?
Right as I was getting ready to hit the sack last night I got called in to fill in someone else's shift, so I've been up for 27 hours so far...and I just saw this article about Miguel Cervantes' 3 year old daughter dying.. I was holding it together just fine.
Until I saw the picture of her bed.

Last edited by Czarcasm; 10-14-2019 at 11:41 AM.
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