What happens when a patient in a nursing home is asking to go home?
Many families bring their elderly loved ones into nursing homes for the sake of giving them the right long-term care. It just so happens that not all of us can provide the nurturing care and support that seniors need as they go through the process of aging. The need for nursing care is incredibly essential in an aging person's life, especially when they're battling a disease or if they have certain disabilities like a person with dementia.
Fortunately, facilities like nursing homes were built to resolve these problems. They serve the purpose of providing long-term care and support for our aging parents through the help of skilled caregivers. In nursing homes, seniors have full access to medical care as well as daily living assistance. You won't have to worry about taking care of them because you know that they are already in good hands.
However, once you hear the words "I want to go home" from your parents' lips, you know it's worrying. Many people who live in nursing homes often feel the desire to leave and go home. It's a common issue that shouldn't be too much of a problem. However, if it's starting to affect the behavior and the well-being of your loved one, it's time to deal with it.
Nursing homes are residential care facilities where seniors can receive long-term care, support, and treatment. They are meant to provide housing for your aging loved ones while at the same time tending to their various needs. Here, a caregiver is assigned to take care of a senior by assisting them with their meals, hygiene, medications, and other daily essentials. These are usually the stuff that a family member is expected to do but not all of us have the liberty to do so.
There are many features in a nursing home. They are open to different types of seniors but primarily dedicated to those who are incapable of caring for themselves. Those who need constant medical and personal care are the ones qualified to reside in nursing homes.
Every senior has his or her own way of expressing their wants and needs. Probably, they're not always straightforward about it right away. They can either show it through their behavior or any non-verbal communication. Therefore, you must really watch out for any tale-telling signs that showcase their desire to leave their nursing home so you can help them sort out whatever the problem is.
To give you an idea, here are some signs that show your loved one is asking to go home (as observed by the caregiver):
1. They're eating less or having a reduced appetite
2. Having difficulty sleeping or experiencing insomnia
3. Refusing to speak to anyone
4. Stubbornness in taking their pills or medications
5. Incessantly sobbing or crying or showcasing other negative emotions
6. Displaying acts of hostility towards the caregivers
7. Frequent expressing or mentioning their desire to go home
There are many plausible reasons as to why your loved ones prefer to go back to their own house rather than stay in nursing homes. The reasons might be coming from internal issues or be a fault of the nursing home itself. Regardless, it's important to know and understand why. One great way to do so is by sitting down with your loved one and having an honest and gentle conversation about it. Try to get some answers and then from there, figure out a way to resolve them.
Here are some of the most common reasons as to why a person wants to leave a nursing home:
One of the main reasons why seniors want to leave nursing homes is because they miss their families. Separation anxiety is very common in older adults, especially between parents and children. When they're away from their family, they tend to feel isolated or depressed. It makes them feel as though they're facing their battles alone (even if they're not). Longing for their family's presence makes them want to go home.
As the saying goes, "there's no place like home". A lot of seniors feel attached to their respective homes, especially if it's the one they grew up into or where they started their first family. People become more sentimental as they age so it only makes sense that they prefer to be in the place that they have memorized both in mind and heart. It's hard to wake up in a living facility that does not even have a home-like setting. This, in turn, makes them experience things like difficulty in sleeping or lack of enthusiasm in engaging in activities.
Nursing homes don't always have a vibrant environment. The clinical setting and hyper-focus on the residents' medical needs make it seem more like a hospital rather than a senior care home. They're strikingly different from other old folks' homes like assisted living that have a more energetic ambiance in comparison. With that, seniors tend to feel a little lonely or isolated.
Nursing homes may provide everything that the elderly need when it comes to nursing care, however, there can also be a lack of avenue for recreational and fun activities. That leads to the possibility of an aging person feeling bored. The repeated sequence of events every day without anything for them to look forward to makes them feel demotivated and therefore pushes the desire to go home.
When family members refrain from keeping in touch with the senior inside a nursing home, feelings of loneliness and isolation may intensify. It's hard enough to be physically apart from a loved one but the lack of communication can also make an aging parent feel unimportant. This may be one of the reasons why seniors would want to go home and leave their nursing homes. They want to go back to their family.
The elderly residing in a nursing home usually only have their caregivers as a company. The caregiver is the one that provides the care and support that can no longer be provided by their respective families. They're the ones who spend time together every single day. Given that, the elderly residents need to have a good relationship with their caregivers. Otherwise, if the caregiver abuses the senior or it's the other way around or they simply would not see eye-to-eye, the senior would most likely demand to go home.
It's important to know and understand the needs of the elderly, especially those that deem them necessary to be cared for in a nursing home. Aging is not an easy process to deal with, especially if you have medical-related or health issues that render you vulnerable and dependent on others to survive.
As we have tackled the reasons why seniors residents want to go home instead of staying in a nursing care home, let's refresh ourselves with their needs. This is to serve as a reminder of why they need to get the proper care and support from skilled caregivers.
Many seniors residents have illnesses or medical issues like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and many more. Some of them even have disabilities like paralysis, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's amongst others. Given that, they must get 24/7 monitoring of their health. Nursing homes provide a medical consultant or specialists as well as nurses to take care of the senior's health. They give the diagnosis or treatment as well as providing medical advice to those who need help with health-related decisions. This way, they can be prepared for anything that might happen. When a new resident comes in, the nursing home makes sure to do a background check on their medical history so that they could provide the necessary treatment.
Some seniors are at the point where they no longer have full-body mobility. Some of them only have the choice to remain in bed for the sake of their health. In this case, nursing homes provide this type of care for residents who have a weakening disease that renders them incapable to walk around and requires them to be lying down. They can have a long-term bed rest under the care and consistent monitoring of caregivers.
Dialysis is not an uncommon necessity in a lot of people as they age. When kidneys fail to operate, many people rely on the power of machines to do its functions of purifying the blood. A lot of elderly members undergo dialysis treatment and this is a major need that cannot be overlooked. Without it, fluid and toxic wastes will fill your body making you feel more tired and have a difficulty in breathing.
When it comes to both physical and mental disabilities, undergoing therapy is a way to slow down its progression or even combat it. Nursing homes offer various types of therapies for seniors such as physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. Intravenous therapy and antibiotics are also being provided in nursing homes.
For residents or patients who can no longer move at all, the method used to let them eat is through feeding tubes. Tube-feeding is the process of delivering liquid nutrition straight to the person's stomach or small intestine. It involves putting a 20-inch silicone tube through their nose which goes through the back of their throat until it reaches the stomach or small intestine. Many families with a loved one who has dementia request to put them on feeding tubes routinely, but even so lots of studies actually proved that using feeding tubes on dementia patients can be dangerous and didn't prove any significant positive impact on their survival rate at all.
Instead of relenting to their request to go home, what are alternative care options we can give them for a better way of living? How can we turn the "I want to go home" to "I am home"?
Nursing homes are sometimes generalized by the mass as the one place that their elderly loved ones can go to once they've reached "that point" in their lives. Sometimes, they're even forgetting to thoroughly analyze the needs of their aging family members before moving them into a nursing home. Nursing homes are really great at providing around-the-clock care and health-related needs for seniors. However, let's also look at the other options that your loved one might like or fit into.
This way, we can give the "wants to go home" issue a rest and they can be finally in a place where they can both receive proper care and be truly happy.
Assisted living is the type of senior care home where the residents are not necessarily incapable of caring for themselves. They can live here somehow independently but at the same time receiving assistance especially when it comes to their activities of daily living. There are full meals, transportation, social and recreational activities, as well as housekeeping services that will certainly make you feel comfortable and happy. One great thing about this is that your parents feel somehow at home and belonging to a community. They can still be themselves while also being monitored by the staff with their daily essentials.
Independent living is where senior residents need zero help even when it comes to activities of daily living. They only need services when it comes to other needs such as housekeeping, etc. They have more freedom to do what they want (and generally this is because they are not as fragile as those who are sick or have disabilities). This type of living is usually for those who are looking for the right place to spend their retirement or golden years in.
Memory care is a type of senior living care center that particularly caters to those dealing with memory loss or a person with dementia such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, and others. They provide services and support that will help residents who have memory impairment. They also offer therapy and activities that try to slow down the progression of their disease and also a safe and secure environment they can live in.
For those who do not like being put in senior care centers, in-home elderly care is a viable choice. Many people also prefer to receive care and treatment within the familiar walls of their own homes. Although it is true that being in your own house can be more comforting, there are also some cons to this arrangement. You can still get 24/7 care and support, but the environment is less than what you may need. The lack of facility means lack of resources plus there's that missed chance of meeting people who are going through the same journey as you.
When it comes to nursing homes vs. old folk homes like the services mentioned above, nursing homes have a more clinical setting in comparison. More skilled nursing care is being provided to the residents and 24/7 medical care is made available. In old folks' homes, seniors may live independently but still get the proper care and support that they need. Also, more social and recreational activities are made available for them to join in.
Both are very important types of senior care facilities. However, it is ultimately depending on the needs of your loved ones to determine where they truly belong. This is why you have to evaluate their needs very carefully.
It may be a possibility that despite showing them the options above, they still want to go home. They refuse to receive any treatment or be cared for by a caregiver. Don't feel guilty, just try to be as helpful as you can. You have to understand that as they age, people may become stubborn and only focus on their "wants" instead of "needs". This is why it's very important that as a family member, you must provide them with all the support that you can give.
Sometimes, if they're still asking to go home, that means they're scared, anxious, or paranoid. Getting mad at them or yelling at them will most probably not help the situation. Instead, find it in your heart to be helpful by reassuring them and comforting them. Validate their feelings and let the person know that you understand him or her. If you hear them out, they might become calm and less frantic. Talk to them gently and let them know you're there for them.
If talking to them yourself is not making any progress, have a professional do it for you instead. Talking to a psychiatrist might enable your loved one to express his or her feelings and come to terms with their aging. For some of them, it's difficult to accept their fate and choose to be in denial and angry. Maybe, by conversing with a psychiatrist, they can get the diagnosis or treatment that they need to have a more open mind towards living in nursing homes or other senior care facilities. You can also consult them to know how else you can help as a family member.
Make it a habit to visit them in the care home that they're in. Their loneliness and separation anxiety from their home might lessen if family members would visit them as often as they'd like. This way, they get to feel important and loved. Also, they have familiar faces to talk to that will also distract them from the pain or suffering that they're going through because of their health conditions. If you can't visit, call them every now and then (for instance, every week). Letting them hear your voice might put their minds to ease.
Many seniors usually ask to go home when they're in nursing homes, especially a person with dementia. It's something that can't always be avoided. And yes, sometimes because of this, caregivers may have a hard time caring for them.
However, the important thing is that you know how to respond to them. You know how to address their needs and have the intent to solve them. As their own family (especially when they're your mother or father), it's your responsibility to provide them with the initial strength and support that they need and help them get the proper care that they need so that their health will not be compromised by their desire to go home. Just be calm, patient, and flexible.