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Nursing Homes
It is hard to put a loved one in a nursing home, but sometimes it has to be

Nothing, of course, could be said to their mother until they had something positive to present; but it was decided to bring their father into the equation; and if they could convince him that this was a good move, he might be able to sway his wife should she dig her heels in, which was pretty likely. Harry needed little convincing. He had considered the possibility and had already come to terms with the inevitable. Eventually a place in one of the best homes on their list became available; so it was time for the family to face the challenge. Grace must have been expecting the suggestion, and although somewhat tearful agreed to give it a try. This should have been a relief for the family, which it was, considering the alternatives; but they were harbouring feelings of guilt over repaying their mother's unselfish love for them with an act that seemed disloyal, even callous.

The chosen nursing home proved to be everything it purported to be, and after a brief transition period Grace had to admit that she was starting to enjoy the experience, especially as any required medical attention was on hand and immediate. Harry, however, discovered how lonely it could be on his own. His idea of remaining in the house and visiting Grace daily wasn't, it seemed, such a good one. It was even more frightening when he had a fall or a serious medical episode, particularly in the middle of the night when no-one was around. Biting the bullet, he approached the nursing home to see if he might get a room there. One was available quite near Grace's; but, they told him, the adjoining room next to his wife's would be vacant soon as the person occupying it didn't have long to live. It was a harsh reality, but also a propitious one for Harry. In just over a week he was able to move to the room next to Grace; and as a bonus there was a connecting door. So Harry and Grace were able to spend their final time together, happily and in ways that were as close to their previous lifestyle as was possible under the circumstances. Seeing this, the family was reassured that their hard decision had been vindicated, and they too were happy.

Although hard to make, the decision for this family proved to be the right one. Frequent visits to the home by individuals and groups helped Grace and Harry accept a different, comfortable lifestyle that did not leave them feeling isolated. Conversely, popping in on their parents regularly and confirming that they were coping reassured their sons and daughters; as well as the grandchildren who needed to know that Nan and Pop were okay, were still there for them and had just moved to a new house.

The success of this story was thanks to a family that cared enough to make exhaustive enquiries before taking the plunge. Anyone facing a similar decision should do likewise. Checking out the available nursing homes and personally inspecting the facilities is important. Seeing whether existing residents appear to be happy with the treatment they are receiving is essential. A friendly chat with some of their visitors can confirm this; or, on the other hand, may shed light on shortcomings of the establishment that the management prefers to keep quiet about. Believe me, mistreatment and neglect on the part of some staff is not unheard of; and you don't want to put your loved one in a place that is going to be investigated by the authorities one day in the future.

Most, however, would seem to be caring and sympathetic to the needs of their residents. Even so, it is advisable to follow up on any complaints of the ones you have convinced to live there. You know better than strangers if they tend to overreact to petty situations. Should they, for example, claim that they are being underfed, or the meals aren't even fit for a dog, visit just before meal times to see for yourself what is being served and whether you consider it has been prepared to the standards that you approve of. So, take any complaints seriously, talk to the management about them; check to see if they have been addressed; and if not, don't allow your loved one to stay there longer than absolutely necessary. That's the very least they deserve.

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