Posts Tagged ‘guest contributors’

How Home Automation Can Help Seniors

This is a guest post submitted by Elli Bishop, a writer and home security industry expert.

Barring any medical issues that would make assisted living or a nursing home a necessity, there’s no reason seniors can’t remain in their homes. With new advances in home automation technology it’s even easier for them to stay put.

The purpose of home automation for the elderly is to create an environment that is easy and safe for seniors to live in, giving them the ability to remain in their home for as long as possible.

What is Home Automation?

Imagine the convenience of turning your lights on before you step through the front door, having them automatically turn off the moment you leave the house, or programming your system to automatically unlock the front door every day at 3:00pm when the caregiver arrives. Or how about automating your home thermostats to regulate heating and cooling so you can reduce energy waste? These modern technological conveniences are no longer reserved for the rich and famous. With home automation services offered by various home security providers, anyone can enjoy the support, security, and savings of a “smart home.”

How Home Automation Helps Seniors

Home automation technology helps seniors maintain their independence by giving them control over their living space and providing the ability to reach out for help in the case of a medical emergency. Standard home automation features include:

  • Remote access
  • Motion detectors
  • Temperature sensors
  • Broken glass detectors
  • Flood sensors
  • Heat and smoke sensors

Many home security service providers also offer easy-to-use touchscreen devices and smartphone apps, allowing seniors can accomplish the following tasks:

  • See who is at front door without having to get up and look
  • Send immediate request for specific help such as medical, police, or fire department
  • Control interior and exterior lighting
  • Regulate and automate the thermostat
  • Remotely turn on and turn off the alarm system
  • Change security codes
  • Set reminders and alerts
  • Watch real-time video of camera-monitored areas outside the home

Home Automation Services Specifically for Seniors

Many home security companies also offer home automation services specifically geared toward seniors where help is just the push of a button away. These services provide state-of-the-art home health security products such as personal help buttons that are small, portable, and can be worn around the neck or as a wristband. These wireless devices are waterproof and have long-range capability.

Senior-driven home automation services also provide elderly customers with the added convenience of speaking with trained emergency response personnel over a two-way voice intercom system. This is especially useful in the event of a fall or emergency medical situation. Other services often include temperature sensors that send alerts if the house reaches unsafe temperatures and reminders to test the personal help button to ensure it is working properly.

Investing in a home automation service allows seniors to can enjoy all the comforts of home with the added security of knowing that if help is ever needed, it’s always there.

How else do you think seniors can benefit from home automation?

The 5 Best Activities To Do With Our Elderly

This is a guest post submitted by writer Sarah Jennings.

Our elderly loved ones play a special role in our lives since the day we are born. We don’t always have time for to visit them but when we do it is important to make the best of it since it then are with us for a significantly shorter period of time then the rest of our family. As a child I spent most of my summers with my grandma while my parents worked. My grandma always made sure I had a good time when I was a kid and I made it a point to repay her as an adult. Here are five of the best activities you can do with your elder loved ones to get the most out of your time together.

1.      Card Games

Your grandma could be a sweet, innocent looking old lady until you put a deck of cards in her hands. Card games keep the mind sharp and are something anyone can play at any time. Rummy, Golf, Hand and Foot, and Crazy Eights are classics that are always entertaining for both of you. Be careful when she tries to pull out her little mini-purse full of change though, she’s about to get serious. Ask her neighbors how she got all those dimes.

2.      Go Out For A Meal

Chances are your grandparents liked to spoil by overfeeding you when you were young. Take them somewhere they would like to go and treat them. A little change in routine is good for our elderly sometimes, especially if they don’t get around so easily anymore.

3.      Go For A Simple Walk

If you are like me and have a tight schedule sometimes just a walk to catch up on things is the best thing for both you and grandma or grandpa(or mom and dad). Ask them how they are doing, if there’s anything knew. If they are disabled and require a rollator or some other walking aid, keep it simple and stroll through the park as opposed to trails in the woods.

4.      Watch their Favorite Program with them or a Ball Game

Whether it is grandma’s favorite soap opera or grandpa’s favorite team playing, a good way to get in the habit of regular visits is to show up the same time that their favorite show comes on. You can watch the show and catch up or chat as you’re watching the game. Sometimes just being remembered and having your presence is all they want and occasions like this could be more meaningful to them then you think.

5.      Dominos

This one was my personal favorite to do with my grandma. Chicken foot is a great game that takes a couple hours to complete. It’s simplicity allows for excellent bonding during this time and is great to include kids in as it can help them learn to match the dominos and learn organization.

There are many other activities you can do with your elders to warm their hearts but these are the ones I personally recommend. Sometimes brightening their day is what brightens yours. Sometimes when your overwhelmed as an adult it can be good to go visit them, you might just feel like a kid again, if only for a brief period of time.

Sarah Jennings has been taking care of others her whole life. In 2005, she moved her mother into her family home. She uses her personal experience to share with others about caring for the elderly. She currently writes on behalf of Brookdale Assisted Living.

Living in a Nursing Home: Benefits to Your Health

This is a guest post submitted by Linda Michelle,  an independent health researcher and freelance writer.

Research has shown that the quality of life of nursing home residents can be significantly improved by making the nursing home seem not like an institution but like home–while delivering custodial care and needed medical care on a continual basis. Though the elderly would prefer to be at home, if they need significant help with the activities of daily living and continuous monitoring, the nursing home is a better environment.

Improvement in Physical Comfort and Safety

When designing the nursing home to be more like a resident’s previous home, residents may be given some autonomy on decisions regarding their environment such as access to adjustable temperature control. But making the environment more home-like has more to do with the residents’ feeling like they are in control of their daily lives, including when they get up, when they eat and when they go to bed.  Unlike home, however, since health care staff supervises the residents, pain and other discomfort can be dealt with better and timelier than if the resident was back in their private home.  Physical assistance can also be given that would be unavailable in a private home.

As the physical environment has to conform to nursing home safety rules, nursing home residents may be in a much safer environment than if they were still in their private home.  Grab bars that can prevent falls are likely to be much more available. Pull chains to call for help in the bathrooms and call boxes for requesting a nurse at the bedside provide quick assistance in an emergency that would not be available in a private home. Elderly people that live with eyesight or mobility programs can be assisted with such tasks as moving around, changing of stoma bags and taking their correct medications.

 Stimulation that Challenges Rather than Overloads

Inadequate stimulation can result in anxiety and boredom whether in a private home or in a nursing home.  A challenging environment where problem solving is required will help the elderly to avoid developing learned helplessness. Though it may seem that a private home would provide more problem solving capabilities, the elderly may have physical and/or cognitive impairments, which may prevent them from problem solving effectively without assistance.  In a nursing home, the residents’ capabilities are assessed by competent health care staff that then can assess the residents’ environment for the right amount of stimuli without the resident becoming overwhelmed.  Additionally, if the resident does become overwhelmed, there is competent help readily available.

Increased Social Interaction

Particularly when the elderly live alone in a private home, they may be lacking in needed social interaction.  A nursing home likely will provide increased social interaction.  Not only is the resident interacting with health care staff but also with other residents.  Nursing homes have frequent activities that provide opportunities for needed social interaction. Additionally, some nursing homes have visiting pet programs, which enable the residents to have meaningful interaction with animals that can contribute to an increased quality of life.

 

Conclusion

Though the elderly would likely prefer to remain in their own home, nursing homes can have a home-like environment that provides additional benefits to the elderly that they cannot get in a private home. Nursing supervision, timely medical intervention, increased safety measures and in many cases, more social interaction, are all ways to improve the quality of life of the elderly.

Linda Michelle is an independent health researcher and freelance writer. Her particular field of research is dedicated to improving the lives of elderly people. For more information about making the life of elderly people easier, visit SecuriCare Medical, who provides a home delivery service for elderly people living with stoma bags.

 

 

The Importance of the Nurse and Patient Relationship

This is a guest post submitted by Melanie Bowen, blogger for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Learn How to Cultivate a Positive Nurse and Patient Relationship

The role a nurse plays in providing care to a patient can make a significant impact on how well and how quickly a patient is able to recover.  Many nurses are exceptionally talented in administering quality and professional care to patients.

However, qualified nurses may find they sometimes struggle with difficult patients who are overcome with stress, worry or fear.  This can place a burden on the nurse/patient relationship if the nurse does not effectively communicate with the patient and continue to cultivate a relationship with the patient that is encouraging, professional and uplifting.

Simple Steps to Communication between a Nurse and a Patient

Communication is one of the biggest factors in any relationship and this is certainly true for a nurse/patient relationship.  The patient has a responsibility to do his/her part and inform the nurse of any changes in how he or she is feeling and in asking questions so they can be informed.  The nurse has a responsibility to communicate their knowledge about the patient’s condition and treatment plan.  Nurses work in stressful, fast-paced environments and it can be easy for a nurse to get in a hurry and fail to take time to communicate patiently and effectively with a patient.

A lot of times patients are filled with concern worry and fear about what is to come and various treatments.  However, when nurses take a few moments to allow the patient to vent and then ask the patient to tell the nurse more, the patient may feel heard and their concerns will be validated.  This typically will help to relieve stress and the two can begin focusing on cultivating a healthy and positive nurse/patient relationship that will lead to increased chances of a speedier recovery.

Healthier Nurse/Patient Relationships Leads to Healthier Patients

When a patient chooses a medical facility to receive long-term care for a chronic illness or disease such as breast, colon, mesothelioma cancer, or leukemia, it is important that the patient watch how the nurses interact with other patients before the patient makes a decision on which facility he or she will go to for treatment.

Nurses can play a huge role in the success of a patient’s recovery and this success is a result of how a nurse and patient interact together.  A healthy nurse/patient relationship will provide vast benefits to the patient and will also make the nurse’s life and job much easier and more enjoyable.  This stimulates a positive atmosphere that is beneficial for both parties.

Case Western Reserve University has released an educational publication about the benefits of a positive nurse and patient relationship. This study discusses nursing values and how nurses can work to foster a supportive and professional relationship with patients they serve. No matter what illness you may be going through whether it is a serious cancer, are in a nursing home or just in recovery from a minor surgery; nurses can be along the way to ease fear and help you be at ease.

A Look Inside Dementia Care Facilities, by a Family Caregiver

This is a guest post submitted by Martha Stettinius, author of the new book “Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir.”

At age 80, my mother is living with advanced dementia (vascular dementia and probable Alzheimer’s disease), and I’ve served as her primary caregiver for 7 years. She’s lived in my home with my husband and two young children, then in assisted living, a rehab center, a “memory care” facility, and now the dementia ward of a nursing home.

In the spring of 2005, my mother lived with us briefly, but she was unhappy and needed more independence, so we convinced her to move to a nearby assisted living facility. With mild cognitive impairment, she seemed afraid to go to activities, which were held in large groups that included the higher-functioning residents of the adjacent “independent living” facility. Many of the assisted living residents had some degree of dementia, but activities and care seemed tailored to the more independent residents. Staff did not receive extensive dementia training, and interactions were minimal. To my dismay, Mom spent most of her days watching TV.

Late in 2007, after falling and fracturing her pelvis, my mother suddenly became incontinent. The fall may have accompanied a small stroke. After Mom spent some time in a rehab center, the assisted living facility staff were not allowed (by their contract, and by our state’s regulations) to physically help my mother change her adult diapers. I had to hire private aides to come in for several hours a day. The facility’s case manager told me that my mother’s needs had fallen into a “gray area.” Shortly after that, when one of the private aides found Mom in bed one morning soaking wet and uncovered, her adult diaper ripped off, I knew it was time to move her. But where?
Mom would live in this memory care facility for nearly 3 years—years that seemed her happiest in a long time. Mom rewarded the staff’s affection with lots of smiles and laughter. Firmly in the middle stages of dementia, she joined the activities, sparked a romance with one of the men, and generally enjoyed living in the moment, no longer tortured by awareness of her disease. Although she had her moments of agitation, the staff all received special training in dementia care, and they knew how to keep her calm and feeling safe.I toured a local “memory care” cottage, most impressed not with the plush, home-like environment—the light-filled windows, the green plants, the white, long-haired cat lounging on the hearth—or the seeming contentedness of the residents who listened to oldies on a CD—but the forthrightness of the administrator who gave me the tour. When I asked her, “At what point, exactly, would my mother have to move out?” she told me, “Residents must be able to feed themselves, and be able to walk for at least a few steps, for example from the bed to a wheelchair.” That’s the kind of answer I’m looking for, I thought. No “gray areas.”

By May of 2010, however, she seemed to have forgotten how to feed herself, and was losing weight. (She was also running out of savings, and the private memory care facility could not accept Medicaid.) I looked for a nursing home in the area that was on The Eden Alternative registry—a nursing home that follows the philosophy of person-centered care championed by Dr. Bill Thomas and his wife, Jude—or a nursing home that was part of the new Green House Project (also a Bill Thomas initiative), but the closest were 3 hours away.  Mom moved into a local nursing home, where for the past 2 years she has received excellent physical care, if not the emotional sustenance and vibrancy one might find in an Eden Alternative nursing home or a smaller, more intimate home such as a Green House. She lives on the dementia floor, where staff members receive some specialized training, but residents in the final stage of dementia rarely enjoy individual attention or appropriate stimulation. Though she can no longer speak, and is immobile in a wheelchair, Mom still enjoys people and shares her brilliant smile. She is still “here,” and deserves to have a life that includes more than being spoon-fed her pureed meals, and napping through group activities.

I’m hopeful that our new National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease will increase public understanding of Alzheimer’s and the need for specialized care, and that funding and answers will surface as more and more Americans fall prey to dementia.  However, we need to press the Department of Health and Human Services to recommend a minimum number of hours of dementia training for health care providers and facility staff. According to the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners, individual states may or may not require dementia education, and their regulations vary by industry (home care, adult day care, assisted living, nursing homes, hospitals, and hospice). Some states, for example, require absolutely no dementia education for staff in the dementia units of assisted living. This must change.

 

About Martha Stettinius, the author:

Martha Stettinius is the author of the new book “Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir,”available at major online book retailers. She serves as a volunteer representative for New York State for the National Family Caregivers Association. For more information about the book, please visit www.insidedementia.com.

Elder 411/911! Cool Smartphone Apps for Baby Boomers

As more than 8,000 baby boomers turn 60 each day, many find themselves caring for an older relative or loved one while also struggling to balance their own retirement, health, jobs, family and aging concerns.  With generations living longer than ever before, I believe we are on the verge of an “elder care tsunami” that has the potential to drown us all.

We are in an era of government cutbacks on much-needed social services for our senior population. At the same time, individuals are dealing with their own property values, savings and retirement funds diminishing.  All told, people are in dire need of practical solutions for dealing with elder care issues – saving their precious time, energy, financial and emotional resources so they can continue to keep their life in balance.

Caregivers and our senior population are in desperate need of information, direction, resources and practical “how to’s” to expedite their needs, so I partnered with Presto Services Inc. (www.presto.com), developer of a computerless email service, to launch a pair of elder care applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch – Elder911.net and Elder411.net. Both applications are FREE! I divided the eldercare information into two separate apps because they serve two very different purposes. Let me explain:

Elder911.net is specifically for emergencies like a fall or sudden illness, putting critical tips and information in hand to help immediately navigate the complexities of a crisis. Amidst the panic and stress of the situation, you will have access to expert advice on what to ask the doctor, planning hospital discharge and life after the initial event.

Both iPhone applications have videos, audio and text that are easy-to understand-and practically presented. They also feature things like interactive checklists, the ability to add personal notes to content, and more.

Elder411.net is a comprehensive database of elder care information providing you access to my tested and proven solutions to caregiving problems as you encounter them.  It’s great for accessing on-the-spot caregiving information, and for planning ahead. More than 500 pieces of practical advice are organized according to my ten steps to make elder care easier. It covers the full spectrum of caregiving issues – talking about tough subjects, keeping the home safe, managing financial and legal needs, considering housing options, and more.

The need to care for an aging parent creates unique and intensive demands on our time and resources. It is my goal to make sure no ones goes through it alone. These two iPhone applications will help caregivers gain instant access to critical caregiving advice directly from their mobile iPhone.

This post was written by guest contributor Dr. Marion Somers.  Dr. Marion has been working in the field of elder care for over 40 years as a geriatric care manager, caregiver, author, speaker, teacher of all things elder care. More information on Dr. Marion and the apps can be found at www.drmarion.com

Sandwich Gen-ers: Are You Setting the Bar Too High?

No one is perfect … that’s why pencils have erasers.  ~Author Unknown

Do you feel that whenever you accomplish something for your kids and/or senior parents that it isn’t quite good enough? Are you so overscheduled with your kids’ and parents’ responsibilities that you end up putting off the important things for yourself? Perfection isn't always necessary

If so, you may be trying to be totally perfect. If you want everything perfect in your perfectly planned sandwich generation life, you’re on the wrong planet. There’s a difference between healthy aspirations and unhealthy ones. As you care for yourself, your kids and your aging parents, are you able to distinguish the difference?

Healthy goals for caregiving standards include setting the bar high for your self but reasonably. This healthy type of goal setting is based on your own wants and desires. The lousy version of this occurs when you set your the bar way too high and reach for perfection, knowing you’re not going to achieve your lofty standards. You’ll always fail because your goals are impossible to reach in the first place; you accomplish absolutely zippo.

I have a perfectionist friend to whom I can relate. Her aging mother was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital recently because she needed to get her gallbladder removed. Unfortunately this happened on the same day as my friend’s daughter’s birthday. My friend’s perfect plan was to work in the morning, head over to the hospital in the afternoon, and then catch her daughter’s birthday party in the evening.

The whole day, my stressed-out friend felt that she was unproductive. She criticized herself so much and over-analyzed the entire day because she ended up being late to her daughter’s party. She was frustrated that she didn’t accomplish her goals and felt like a failure because she basically missed her daughter’s birthday. It didn’t matter what I said, my exhausted friend continued to analyze the “not so perfect” day.

How do you distinguish between what’s important to do very well versus okay?

3 ways to do control your urge to achieve perfection:

  1. Stop the all-or-nothing thinking. A perfectionist feels worthless if their accomplishments are not perfect. Professor of psychology at the University of Houston Lynn P. Rehm, Ph.D. says, “If you tried to do everything that you have to do in a day perfectly, you’d never get through the day.”
  2. Avoid overemphasis on the “shoulds”. A perfectionist structures her life with a laundry list of “shoulds,” which creates a rigid belief of how things must be. If you are constantly thinking about how things “should” be with your kids and your senior parents, chances are you are not taking into account your own wants and needs.
  3. Confront your fears. Perfectionists are afraid of failure. They may equate making mistakes with catastrophe. Trying to avoid every single mistake in your sandwich generation world, you’ll miss all kinds of opportunities to learn and grow.

Give your perfectionisSandwich generation strives for perfectionm a makeover and you will accomplish more goals and rebuild your self esteem and sense of well-being.

Before: You often feel that you’ve had an unproductive day because you view your efforts as inadequate and never ending. After: Take a good look at yourself and applaud all your efforts of trying your best.

Before: You must give more than 100 percent on everything you do to help your senior parent. After: Distinguish between what’s important to do very well and what’s not. Good is good enough.

Before: You are constantly caring for your children and your senior parents in a way to avoid making mistakes. You’re always playing it safe. After: Recognize that many positive things can only be learned from making a mistake.

Walk me through your perfectly healthy sandwich generation life. How do you distinguish between what’s important to do very well versus okay?

A Registered Dietitian and Senior Resource Diva, April Fan, RD, CD, Founder of SeniorResourceCentral.com, is on a mission to educate baffled adult children who are currently caring for their own children as well as their aging parents. Her goal is to help these juggling caregivers discover how to take the confusion out of this daunting role. Tap into April’s personal and clinical experiences, proven resources, handy tips and sane ideas at http://www.SeniorResourceCentral.com.

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Is Caregiving taking over your life? Toby Donner shares a story about the challenges of Elder Care.

My intent was never to become a caregiver. I have always been a career girl, encouraged by my parents to be self-sufficient and independent. Never, they’d say, ever EVER would they lean on me in their old age. At the same time, I have always been a pleaser – wanting everyone to be happy and having a difficult time saying “no”. Lately, this combination has become toxic.

Last year my parent’s health began to decline. As they lived in another city, I was always dashing back and forth when I would receive a frantic “emergency” phone call. Yes, I’d be there. Yes, I would drop everything in this crisis. Yes, I’d cook. Yes, I’d call the doctors. Yes, yes, yes… As an only child, I had no other siblings to rely on. It became apparent that my parents were increasingly becoming less able to care for themselves and that they just didn’t want to try. My mother, in particular, suddenly went from being the one in charge to the one who had no interest in anything but her needs! When I hired help to come into their home, the cost quickly shot through the roof, close to $10,000 a month.

Soon it made more sense to move them closer to where I live. I selected a retirement home that had both independent and assisted living, which I thought would please my parents. It is a lovely place with lots of activities, transportation, beautiful surroundings and a seemingly caring staff. However, my parents refuse to use the transportation and participate in any activities except the nightly dinners provided in the dining room. I soon found myself doing their shopping, driving them to endless doctor’s appointments and such. Have I enabled them – yes? In my need to please, my life has turned into a nightmare, affecting myself, my work and my family life. Do I know how to extricate myself – no? No matter how hard I try to push them to take charge of any part of their own lives, they refuse to do so.

So what do I do? Refuse to take them anywhere? It is easy to say set boundaries, but much harder to follow through. When I try, they just sit there and don’t make any effort. Is there anyone out there who has or is going through the same experience? While I know I am responsible for creating my own hell, I am truly reaching out to you for help…..

Please visit www.girlfriendswithagingparents.com to join in the conversation, sharing experiences, wisdom & stories. Let Toby & Norma know what your concerns are, what’s on your mind!

What Little Sparks Will Help Your Aging Parents?

Back at the skilled nursing facility, I meet and care for new seniors every time I’m there. Also, I learn a lot from them. For example, I learned what not to do: Don’t smoke. I’m currently caring for a 95-year-old female who smokes. Doctor says that the smoking was likely the cause of her oral cancer. She will unfortunately rely on a feeding tube for the rest of her life.

Aging adults may regret not taking early risksAnd, I’ve learned what to do: Take more risks and live in the moment. Seniors constantly state, “I should have,” “I could have,” and “I’ve always wanted to but…”. I just spoke with a 75 year old guy. He said, “I should have lost the weight and now it’s too late”. Due to his bad knee, he will struggle with limited mobility for the rest of his life.

I clearly remember the day when I met a certain 92-year-old woman who is a mother of three adult children. She really inspired me. Here’s why:

First of all, she is very proud of her girls. She had a picture of the three of them at her bedside table, and by golly, she had to share a little story about each one – how she named them, their ages, their occupations, and how she is patiently waiting for grandchildren.

Next to her girls’ picture was a picture of an older woman running a marathon. She was wearing typical running gear, and I could see gray hair sticking out of her baseball cap. I could also see that she was wearing the biggest smile from ear to ear.

I asked her, “Who is that lady?” She replied, “That was me. The last time I ran, I was 74 years old and it was 5 miles”.

She told me that one day she saw an advertisement on the side of the bus that said, “Run for Your Health”, so she did. She found the spark in her life and had been talking about it for the past 21 years.

Her treasures were right next to her, right on her bedside table … her family and the joy of running.

If you know what sparks your own aging parents, use it to remind them of their purpose and give them a reason to get up in the morning. If your parent happens to be in some type of long-term care facility, check to see what’s on their bedside table. Sparking memories in aging parents

I think my parents would have a huge bedside table to hold pictures of the entire group of their five adult children and their extended families. Plus, there would have to be a Lazy Susan holding a variety of dim sum goodies. As soon as my parents meet you, they will first ask if you have eaten yet, then they will ask you how you are doing. Food is very important to my parents. Maybe that’s why I’m a dietitian.

There will be ups and downs as your parents transition. Just remember to rekindle the sparks in their life.

What helps your parents jump out of bed in the morning?

A Registered Dietitian and Senior Resource Diva, April Fan, RD, CD, Founder of SeniorResourceCentral.com, is on a mission to educate baffled adult children who are currently caring for their own children as well as their aging parents. Her goal is to help these juggling caregivers discover how to take the confusion out of this daunting role. Tap into April’s personal and clinical experiences, proven resources, handy tips and sane ideas at http://www.SeniorResourceCentral.com.

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Seniors and Their Rights in Long-Term Care Facilities

At the skilled nursing facility where I work, we remind seniors that they all have rights. Their rights put them in charge of their experience in the facility and can direct their plan of treatment, as well as their personal way of living.

Well, we have a resident who prefers to wear only his underwear during the day. Yes, he’s totally alert, and there’s no trace of dementia. Of course, he has his rights, but sometimes resident’s rights can get a bit tricky to interpret. There are boundaries and then there are dignity issues.  Patients have the right to participate in their plan of care

I often run into situations where residents will request or even do something outrageous. Though, I’m a little too shy to share some of those stories with you today (blush, blush).

If your senior parents have specific requests that may be out of the norm and you’re worried about their rights, you should know that there are both state and federal regulations that protect them in long term care facilities.

Seniors who live in long-term care (LTC) facilities are definitely more vulnerable than seniors who live independently. In 1987, the U. S. Congress recognized this fact and passed The Nursing Home Reform Act that gave nursing home residents additional legal protections, including a set of Residents Rights.

In 1995, the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman successfully persuaded the Washington legislature to extend Residents Rights to other LTC facilities such as assisted living facilities, adult family homes and state operated veterans’ homes. The point was to advance consumer healthcare education and to empower older adults and their family members to make informed long-term care decisions.

To review the full list of 12 Residents Rights, go to http://www.ltcop.org/index.htm. It includes all aspects of long-term care stay starting from the day of admission, lasting throughout their stay to the day of their discharge.

Let’s dig into 5 of them right now:

  1. You can communicate with whom you choose. This means that seniors can make decisions about all aspects of their daily living. So, the minute a senior wakes up in the morning, he can actually determine the time he wants to get up. Some residents believe that if they don’t get up early for breakfast, they would miss their first meal. Not so.
  2. Right to participate in and decide your plan of care. Everyone has the right to refuse care. As health care professionals, we will explain the risks and benefits to you, just to make sure you understand the consequences. For example, nurses may run into the dilemma of a senior declining his medications. This is a tough one and a common one. I personally work with seniors who refuse to eat, every single day.
  3. Right to information. All healthcare professionals will document everything about you, even if you are misbehaving. And, you have the right to read all about it.
  4. Right to privacy and respect. You must be respected and the residents around you must also be respected. The underwear story fits into this one. Again, healthcare professionals will educate you on the risks or benefits of your decisions.
  5. Right to hold resident and family meetings. You have the right to participate in resident gatherings in the facility; lots of meetings are usually going on. And, if you like, you can call a meeting as often as you wish.

Written by guest contributor April Fan, RD, CD

A Registered Dietitian and Senior Resource Diva, April Fan, RD, CD, Founder of SeniorResourceCentral.com, is on a mission to educate baffled adult children who are currently caring for their own children as well as their aging parents. Her goal is to help these juggling caregivers discover how to take the confusion out of this daunting role. Tap into April’s personal and clinical experiences, proven resources, handy tips and sane ideas at http://www.SeniorResourceCentral.com.

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