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How to Support Someone Receiving Skilled Nursing Care

June 3, 2021

Is your loved one in a skilled nursing program? You may be wondering how you can best support them. Are you overstepping, or are you not doing enough? How do you find the perfect balance when learning how to support someone receiving skilled nursing care?

You’re taking the best first step by researching what you can do. Finding and maintaining that perfect balance is possible. Remember that skilled nursing programs provide a high level of medical care administered by trained medical professionals, including doctors; registered nurses; and physical, speech and occupational therapists. Your loved one is well taken care of, but there is still a role for you.

Visit Regularly

Even though residents in skilled nursing have regular interactions with medical professionals, there’s nothing quite like a visit from a friend or family member. Remember that your loved one looks forward to visits from people they know outside of the care facility. You can support them by prioritizing and scheduling regular visits. How often you visit is up to you and your family, but it’s a good idea to aim for at least once a week. If you had an established tradition or cadence of visiting, stick to it, if you can.

Bring a Positive Attitude

When you visit, no matter how your day is going, put on a smile and bring positivity. No matter what health issue your loved one is dealing with, they need cheerful vibes. You can support them by bringing that cheerfulness when you visit.

Share some good news about a fellow loved one. Talk about the best parts of your day so far. Tell them about a recent win you had at work or school. Talk about past memories that make your loved one smile or laugh. Whatever you do or say, keep it light, bright and positive.

Be a Listening Ear

Everyone wants to feel heard. One of the best things you can do when you visit a loved one in skilled nursing is to take the time to listen. But here’s the key — don’t just listen, respond. When your loved one talks, take a moment to pause and truly consider their words before you respond.

Dealing with health problems or chronic medical conditions can be stressful. Sometimes people need to vent about their frustrations, fears and concerns. Be there for your loved one by allowing them to vent to you. Approach all topics with an empathetic and positive mindset, but allow your loved one to say what they need to say. Sometimes it’s not about offering the right advice or fixing a situation; it’s about simply listening.

Send a Care Package

If you can’t get to your loved one in person, let them know you’re still thinking about them with a care package. It can be as little or big as you’d like, but make sure to include heartfelt items that mean something to your loved one. For example, you may want to include:

  • Photographs
  • Cards or letters
  • Drawings
  • Favorite snacks
  • Books
  • Puzzles
  • Magazines

You know the excitement of getting a package in the mail and not knowing what’s inside. It’s thrilling to open it and see all your favorite items. That’s exactly what sending a care package will do for your loved one — it will mean more than you realize.

Use Technology to Connect More Frequently

No one wants to miss out. Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has taken a front seat in senior living communities and skilled nursing facilities. Send that cute video of your toddler playing with the dog. Record your teenager hitting a home run at the high school baseball game. Share a video update of yourself and your kids. Use your phone or computer to make your loved one feel as though they’re right by your side, part of the action.

Not sure if your loved one can use or understand the technology? Oftentimes staff members at skilled nursing facilities will assist residents with playing videos, reading text messages, or evening using Skype and FaceTime.

There are so many ways you can show your support to a loved one in a skilled nursing program. The bottom line is this: Be there for them in some way, shape or form. Your presence and your love matter.

Discover Compassionate Senior Living at Episcopal SeniorLife Communities

At Episcopal SeniorLife Communities, we are committed to providing you or your loved one with personalized care so you can live a healthier, more purposeful life. Our senior living communities offer you or your loved one wellness and learning activities, social opportunities and high-quality care from our dedicated staff members.

Contact us today to learn more about our senior living options and explore how you or your loved one can live each day with meaning — right from the start.

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