Transitioning a Dementia Loved One to A Skilled Nursing Facility

Michelle Gilmore
Director of Nursing
Abbyshire Place Skilled Nursing & Rehab

dementiaImagine you wake up, slightly chilled in a silent, dark room.  You don’t know where you are, how you got there, or the time of the day.  You look around the room to see only a strange button attached to the bed, a small dresser in the corner, and another person sleeping not far away from you.  Then fear overwhelms you as you think where your home has gone, your family, and your things.

This described, are the fears a dementia patient faces on a daily basis.  Not many families desire for their loved ones to require placement to a Long-Term care facility.  Usually the trend is that families actually prolong placement beyond necessity and exhaust their relationship with the loved one needing placement.  So, how does a caring family assist their loved one with the transition to a nursing facility?

Making the Transition

A noted issue for a dementia patient is the fluctuation of orientation to their surroundings.  A Nursing facility can assist with these fluctuations by providing consistent staffing to assist the patient in recognizing familiar faces in their daily routines.  To further assist the patient, however, it is strongly encouraged that the families of this type of patient bring items from home, that are safe in nature, to help the patient trigger pleasant, calming memories.  As little as a photograph of a pleasant time of the patient’s life can help reduce adverse behaviors by reducing fear of the unknown when waking from rest periods.

Other items such as decorations made in the room to mimic or create familiarity with the patient’s home can be completed.  One of the most effective stress reducers for a dementia patient resident in a Long Term care facility is creating a “Home-Like” atmosphere.  Decorations such as hanging wall art, small furniture items, or the patient’s favorite snack can be brought in per the family.  Such items and actions have been noticed to greatly reduce the stress and strain on families, patients, and healthcare staff.