Over the course of 15 years, five of my elderly loved ones lived, for various spans of time, in a nearby nursing home. I visited them nearly every day. Some would say I was over-attentive since my elders were getting excellent care in the facility. But I tended to their specific requests that were beyond what the staff could possibly deliver, which made my elders easier for the professionals to care for. Striking a careful balance is crucial when it comes to visits and family involvement at a long-term care facility. There is helpful participation with your loved one, and then there is involvement that borders on, or crosses over into, interference.
Can Families Get Too Involved?: I like to think that I stayed safely on the helpful side of this line. Over time, I made friends with the staff. I stayed out of their way when they were busy and refrained from taking up their time with small talk. I didn’t criticize them if I saw a problem. Instead, I asked nicely if we could make some adjustments and I listened to their suggestions and explanations. I kept my visits to an hour or so, which was just long enough to visit with each elder and make sure their needs for the day were taken care of. My presence was welcomed by elders and staff alike. However, employees would occasionally confide in me about families who “took over” during their visits to the nursing home. These visitors acted as if they owned the facility, and their loved ones were the only residents who mattered. They cornered every staff member they could find and talked to them either as if they were a good neighbor who had all the time in the world or an adversary who needed constant monitoring. Neither attitude is good.
Advocacy vs. Entitlement: Family caregivers naturally advocate for their loved ones’ well-being and this is entirely necessary, especially for seniors who cannot fully understand or participate in their own care. However, there is a point where some family members take this responsibility to an unrealistic level.
Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories.“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.” ...Craig William Dayton, Film Composer
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