Some suggestions of ways that you can continue to care for your loved one after he or she has moved into a long-term care facility.
Usually, people tend to equate “caregiving” with in-home care. Yet, if your loved one lives in a long-term care facility, there are things that you, as the caregiver, can do for him or her on a daily basis. Below are a few suggestions of ways that you can continue to care for your loved one. Whereas most of these suggestions will work for all care arrangements, be sure to check with and abide by any policies at your one’s facility.
- Attend to financial, legal, and funeral arrangements previously made by your loved one, or work with family to make these arrangements and keep them current
- Learn about your loved one’s medical condition by talking with doctors, nurses, and staff
- Be aware of the daily treatment your loved one receives and, if needed, intervene to prevent abuse or fraud
- Visit your loved one as frequently as possible
- Sit and listen to your loved one
- Sit and talk to your loved one
- Meet and get to know the staff at the facility, and let them know that you would like to be contacted if your loved one’s condition changes
- If possible, ask your loved one if there are any tasks that you can do that would ease his or her mind (e.g., begin to sort through old pictures)
- When you visit your loved one, touch him or her in a compassionate way—too often individuals in institutional environments are viewed as frail and do not receive enough human contact
- Encourage other family and friends to visit your loved one
- Send your loved one letters or greeting cards that he or she can read
- Encourage your loved one to write letters to friends and family and, if needed, help him or her do so
- Send your loved one pictures of family members and friends
- Help your loved one to decorate his or her room
- Call your loved one frequently and encourage others to do so
- Plan activities that your loved one enjoys (e.g., reading, gardening, playing a game)
- Contact a local animal therapy program and have them bring a dog or cat to visit your loved one
- If possible, plan events or trips that your loved one can look forward to (e.g., a visit from distant family)
The previous suggestions are only some of the ways that you can provide care to your loved one if he or she lives in a long-term care facility. The type and frequency of what you can do is often limited by other factors, including your loved one’s condition, the facility’s rules and regulations, distance, and your own daily activities. Because you know your loved one best, sit down and think about specific things that he or she would like. Just remember: there’s always a way that you can help.
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