As I was thinking of the words that should open this web site, and what I would most like to say to family members feeling stress trying to care for their loved ones in a nursing home, the first words that came to me were “You are not alone.” As a long-time advocate for nursing home residents and families, I have seen family members struggle, often upset and angry, because they felt unable to secure the care that their loved ones needed. The grief and the guilt of having to place someone they love in an institution are frequently compounded by a deep sense of helplessness when it comes to making that person feel comfortable and cared for.
All of this is understandable. For most people the nursing home is a new and foreign environment, which one may have no clue how to navigate. Even asking for help can be intimidating. Who do I go to for what problem? What are the right things to say?
Not all nursing homes are bad places. Some are better than others. But there are resources that can benefit anyone who is new to the experience. We will provide you with some of those resources right here. Watch for more as this brand-new web site gradually expands.
The photo at the top of this article shows me with a woman who developed severe dementia, and whom I continued to visit after she entered a nursing home. You can read the full story here. It demonstrates the power of music to improve the life of even the most severely compromised human being. This was one of the experiences that inspired me to become a music therapist. And music therapy is just one of the resources that can help both residents and families deal with the isolation and anxieties of nursing home life. More will be coming about that and about other assets and strategies that can help you effectively represent your loved one.
(C. Gourgey, May 2015)