Getting Along with Others

Today I am blogging an answer to a common long-term care question about getting along with other residents in nursing homes.

Question:  My uncle isn’t getting along in the nursing home.  He likes to be alone and listen to music.  It upsets him if other people are around.  When the other residents “bother” him, he gets angry.  I’ve been told that there have been some fights between him and other residents. I think the nursing home wants him to leave.  What should I do?

Answer:  This is a really tough situation.  Unfortunately, a nursing home is very busy and there are always fellow residents around all of the time.  Living in one calls for major adjustments by residents, adjustments made more difficult by age and illness. The first thing you need to do is talk with the Director of Nursing.  Your uncle is entitled to privacy and care that meets his needs; the facility is obliged to accommodate his preferences as much as possible; and, both he and the other residents are entitled to a safe environment.  A care plan is a meeting where all of the people who work with your uncle, as well as your uncle if he wishes, sit down together and develop a strategy to provide the highest possible quality of life for him. Before the care plan meeting be sure to gather information about when your uncle and others do not get along. It is very important to determine when these fights occur and exactly what is said or done.  For example does your uncle get upset when residents wander into his room and touch his belongings? If so, what does he say or do? Does he yell?  If so what does he yell?  Does he hit the other resident? If so, does he hit with him hand or cane or throw something? What is the reaction from the other resident? Is you’re your uncle subjected to the unmonitored wandering of residents with Alzheimer’s or other memory loss? If so, does this occur during a certain time of day? For example, does a confused resident wander into his room at 7pm? Be sure to share details so the problem can be addressed.

Maybe your uncle gets into fights with others only when he goes into crowded areas like a communal dining room or crowded activity even. Having your uncle at the meeting encourages him to express solutions to the fighting. He may share that he doesn’t want to eat a certain meal in the busy dining room or maybe he wants to arrive first at the activity room so he can secure a spot away from others or heavy foot traffic.  When people work together with a good will, satisfactory plans can be worked out.  A care plan should result in some improvements. Take your facility Ombudsman along with you to the care plan meeting.

You can call the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency (NHOA) at 859-277-9215. Or email us at nhoa@ombuddy.org