Critter Corner: Nursing Home Preparation

Dear Baxter,

My father will be moving to a nursing home next month. What do you suggest we do to prepare for this big move?


Bea Forehegos


Dear Bea,

The move to a nursing home is more like a journey than an event, for most residents, caregivers, and families.  After you have chosen a facility, it is wise to do as much preparation as you can. Some things you might consider are as follows:

Make a list of all the requirements that will come from the nursing home, and try to see what can be done before admission.

Make another list of all the things that the move will entail — who has to be contacted or what services have to be shut off or relocated.

Become informed — Read as much as you can on the subject and discuss your fears and concerns with others who have gone through the experience before. Try to have an understanding of what your rights are with regards to nursing homes and care. One of Mr. Farr’s books, The Nursing Home Survival Guide, is a good resource.

Make a plan for the move — how it is going to happen, what will be taken, who will organize the resident, or who will even tell him or her that it is happening.

If you are the caregiver and/or a family member, make a plan for yourself as to what kind of support you will need during this time, and the time immediately following it. Sometimes when a room or bed in a nursing home becomes available, you have very little time before the move.

If there are several family members who are involved in the caregiving, it might be wise to have at least an informal meeting as the process is unfolding, so that everyone is caught up and on the same page. Be prepared for the fact that not everyone will handle this process emotionally in the same way, even if you are all agreed that it is necessary. If there are divisive issues about money or care, you may have to get professionals involved to protect you and your loved one. Please see our trusted referrals for names of local professionals that can help!

Emotional preparation

Prior to the move, the prospective resident should be involved in as much of the decision-making as possible. Fear of the unknown can make an admission more difficult. Both the caregiver and resident should be able to spend some time in the facility, with the staff, other residents, and other family members until some kind of comfort is developed. That could mean, if allowed, going to activities, having a meal there once a week or a couple of times, going to the family council or family information night meetings, or meeting with the  activities  director before admission.  Add many facilities, there is a chance to experience this type of preview by using temporary respite care services at the facility. In some cases, more cognitively aware residents can go to a resident’s council or be “buddied up” with a present resident.

If your father has not done Long-Term Care Planning (even when he is already receiving long-term care), please call Mr. Farr to make an appointment for an initial no-cost consultation.

Hope this is helpful!

Arf Arf,


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