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Column: Transition to nursing home doesn't need to be overwhelming experience

by Kandis Peterson
| May 21, 2009 12:00 AM

To most folks, transitioning into a nursing home from home or a hospital can be a bit overwhelming.

Everything from the insurance cost to questions about how much room you will have for that 40-year-old recliner is addressed it seems. Some people actually wait to inquire because they think once you’re in, there’s no turning back.

Working in long-term health care over the past eight years has given me an insight on what people really do go through when this transition happens. Often, there are strong emotions involved for the resident and their family. Even friends are part of the move and thankfully, a great deal of them are involved.

There are many mistaken ideas about the nursing home, such as no privacy, being abused by staff, being forgotten by family, never going outside and all of the residents are senile. Those are just a few of the misconceptions of what really happens in long-term care.

Insurance is another factor that leaves a great deal of folks baffled, mainly because of misinformation and lack of knowledge in the area. Hey, none of us have a book we carry around that answers all of our questions on this subject, and if you do, I’d really like to meet you.

Naturally, this is a stumbling block for people who might need rehab or even respite care and will wait until caregiver burn-out or even worse, an accident occurs before they seek info on the subject.

Our country asks that we plan ahead for what may be a huge influx of elderly population – 231,000 over age 60 in Montana alone by 2017, according to Montana AARP’s Bob Bartholomew at the Governor’s Conference on Aging. It is estimated that we will have at least 21,000 victims of Alzheimer’s in Montana by 2010 alone, according to the Montana Alzheimer’s Association.

So, statistically, we need to plan for the future. And to do that, we need the right information.

Call me anytime at Libby Care Center with questions pertaining to our long-term facility here in Libby. I’ll do my best to make sure that your answers are addressed or at least lead you in the right direction.

(Kandis Peterson is activities director at Libby Care Center. She can be reached at 293-6285).