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CARENOTES | Past Carenotes | Let's Talk


Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 8/26/14


I need help in understanding my 82-year-old mother. She is in a nursing home, the third one, and complains constantly about everything. She claims the staff is mistreating her, punishing her, etc. I have spoken with them and do not believe what Mother is saying and because I don't believe her, I feel guilty.


Shared by: Bonita

To better understand your mother's complaints about her treatment in the nursing home, I suggest that you investigate in other ways besides just asking the staff. Unfortunately, according to 2013 report for Families for Better Care, many nursing homes rate below average (my state rated "F"). Based on my experiences of family and friends in nursing homes, your mother is telling the truth. You can detect issues by visiting frequently at different times of the day or night and staying awhile taking note of how others are treated. You may need to have your mother in a nursing home but you can do so with less guilt if you devote time to learning everything you can about life there. Investigate! Investigate! Investigate!


Shared by: Carolyn
Rockville, MD

I agree with others that it's important to find out which problems are real and which are not. Real problems can be handled through discussion with nursing home staff or, if necessary, a long-term care ombudsman. Loneliness, if that's the situation, might be handled by asking staff which other residents your mother might enjoy meeting and which activities she likes.

Shared by: Evy Boyle
Boca Raton, FL

The feeling of loneliness can present in many forms. Often we take our feelings out on the ones we love.The concerns that are red flags is the consistency of her issues. Plan surprise visits at unexpected hours (early morning, later in the evening) Check her weight to see if she is eating and hydrating properly. If possible get her an outside companion to visit. Look into small group homes that emphasize nurturing.

Shared by: Leslie

I understand--it kind of feels like having a naughty child away at boarding school. How do you sort out what is really true? Make surprise visits as often as possible. Observe how the staff is treating other patients. Talk with family members of other residents to see if there is any common thread about what residents are reporting. Listen to what your mother is saying and make her feel like what she is saying is important. The total loss of independence may be making her feel like the things being said to her in a commanding voice are punishment. Take into consideration the emotions that may be affecting her perspective or the staff's perspective of her. Talk about the things you both observe while you are together to see if you can help change her perspective about the staff members. Best wishes!


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