In your senior years, one of your major tasks may be to find a nursing home. In fact, finding and moving into the right caring home is the key factor in determining the quality of your life. By choosing the right care home for your needs, you're entering an environment specifically designed for people with your particular circumstances. Your new care home is a place where you can relax and not worry about the practicalities of daily life. You just need to focus on being as happy as possible. But this is not as simple as it sounds. For one thing, finding a nursing home and moving in is a very emotional experience.
So let's consider the emotional factors involved in moving into a caring home. Like all major life changes, it gives rise to a number of fears. These fears, which include fear of regimentation, of losing your identity and being institutionalized, can have substantial emotional effects on the new arrival at a nursing home. The fact is that arriving at your new care home can be a daunting business and how you handle it will depend on your personality. If you're the resilient type, you can take it all in your stride. But most people experience a sense of anxiety, bewilderment and dislocation when first entering residential care.
So what can you do about this? One important way to do this is by finding a nursing home that you feel comfortable in. You should not view a nursing home as just a building with a range of facilities and a collection of staff; you should view it as your new home, a place where you're going to spend most of your time in the future.
That's why it's important to visit every care home before deciding to move in. With luck, you'll find a place that feels just right but in any event, a detailed examination of potential nursing homes will mean that when you come to move in, it will be less of a surprise.
Other than visiting the homes and talking to residents, you should also ask questions about you potential new home. You need a find out to what extent you can maintain your independence. The fact is that caring homes vary significantly in their adherrence to fixed routines.
So you need to find out answers to questions such as:
How much flexibility there is regarding meal times and bath times? Being able to follow your own routine as much as possible can help you feel more independent.
What are the visitor arrangements? In the early days, regular visits will help dispel in the initial sense of dislocation and loneliness. And are your pets allowed to visit?
What personal items can you bring with you? Obviously you'll probably have less room that your former home. But being able to bring your own small items of furniture and hang your favorite pictures will go a long way towards creating a homely atmosphere.
What organized activities are there? The best way to become part of a community is to be socially active. This way you'll feel a sense of belonging and quickly make new friends. Likewise, if you're used to being out and about, you should check if residents are encouraged to step outside the home.
Obviously living in a residential care home is governed to some extent, and fixed routines have to be the order of the day. Flexibility varies from home to home and depends on such matters as budgets, staffing and facilities. But by creating your own personal routine and environment as much as possible, you can retain much of your own lifestyle and so avoid much of the emotional turmoil.
Failure to deal with the emotional consequences of moving into a care home can be serious and can have a substantial effect on your emotional well-being and ability to adapt to life in your new home. So choose your new nursing home with care, make it your own special place, and join in the social life. In this way, your new nursing home will be not just a place to live and be taken care of, but a place where you can thrive and enjoy a whole new lease of life.