How many times have you heard the phrase, "I promise I'll never put you in a nursing home"?
Our fantasies about nursing homes are usually more like nightmares: residents are slouched in wheelchairs and parked alone in dark hallways. We imagine lonely, helpless, and bored people, bad smells, and sad voices.
A family's decision to "put" a loved one in a nursing home is fraught with guilt. A spouse is expected to care for a loved one, no matter how hard it may be. After all, they signed up "for better or for worse; in sickness and in health…" Adult children become 'the sandwich generation,' juggling jobs, the demands of their own children, and their parents' increasing need for round-the-clock care.
The toll on caregivers is incredible. Most of the time, they manage to care for their loved one, but the physical and emotional stress can overwhelm the best of them. For many months–and sometimes years–the caregiver stops being a full time wife, daughter, son, husband, or other family member and becomes a 24/7 care-provider. Exhaustion, sadness, frustration, and even anger can undermine the relationship between the person receiving care and the person giving it.
And what about the person receiving care? What kind of quality of life do they have? Rather than being "put" in a nursing home, they may be left alone at home all day when their caregiver must go to work. Even in the best of situations, do they have a chance to see old friends and make new ones every day? Do they have opportunities to go on trips, shopping excursions, or out to lunch? Do their families have the time and resources to provide them with musical entertainment without leaving home, a chance to develop new hobbies, or just get their hair cut or styled without having to go outside in the cold?
For someone who needs 24-hour nursing care, a good nursing home is a godsend. A great nursing home can be a new lease on life.
At the New Hampshire Veterans Home we have many residents who lived at home before coming here. They've told us that they were often lonely, bored, and felt like they were a burden, in spite of the best intentions of the people who love them most.
Here, maybe because they are all veterans, they find an instant connection with their fellow residents. Here they don't ever have to be alone.
Here they discover they can be busy all day long if they wish–participating in Intergenerational Programs, dances, picnics, and barbecues. People who never touched a paintbrush can become artists; men and women who only read stories now are writing them. Someone who previously dabbled in photography can become an expert—and even teach others. They can be as busy or as quiet as they like, volunteering in the local middle school, doing Tai Chi in the morning, planting seeds to grow next summer's tomatoes, enjoying a pet visitor, buying an ice cream bar in the store, attending a Chapel service or Bible study, using a computer to send e-mail to family and friends, or just quietly reading the newspaper in the library.
And what happens to the caregivers? Amazingly, they go back to being family members again: a wife, a husband, a daughter, a son. This phase of life can be a wonderful and even joyous one, when people have the time and energy to enjoy their remaining years, in spite of physical limitations.
So the next time you hear the phrase, "I promise I'll never put you in a nursing home," think carefully about what it really means. As our loved ones approach the last stage of their lives, we can give them a great gift–the chance to be part of a caring community, where life can be lived to the fullest, every day.
The New Hampshire Veterans Home is a great nursing home with an incredibly dedicated staff. If you know someone who is a veteran and who needs nursing home care, learn more about us. Contact our Admission Coordinators at (603) 527-4400.
For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions section.
New Hampshire Veterans Home
139 Winter Street | Tilton, NH 03276-5415 |
(p) 603-527-4400 | (f) 603-286-4242