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Deciding to place someone you love in a nursing home isn’t an easy decision. It doesn’t make it easier when the person you love is a dementia patient. 

Although some may have made the promise to take care of their loved one, it may be best to place your loved one in a nursing home. It could be the safest option for both the caretaker and the patient for a variety of reasons. Patients with dementia can still experience joy, meaning, comfort, and growth in their lives. 

How should nursing homes care for dementia patients?

Before actually placing your loved one in a nursing home, it is crucial to take some time to research and decide which would be the best nursing home that will take care of your loved one’s needs and give you peace of mind. 


Everyone in the facility, including those that aren’t directly responsible for delivering dementia care, should be trained, not just nursing staff and caregivers. This list of staff includes dietary staff and the housekeeping staff, the maintenance staff. It is best to prepare everyone for instances in which these individuals who aren’t directly involved with resident care come into contact with dementia patients from time to time. All staff should be prepared to respond if a resident is confused or combative and needs assistance. 

Social Engagement

The social needs of nursing home residents with dementia are often ignored, even though patients can express their emotions and respond in social settings. It is important for patients to maintain their social interactions throughout the day, every day. 

It has been shown that engagement in activities can have positive effects on persons with dementia, such as an increase in happiness, elevated interest and alertness, a decrease in boredom, and a higher quality of life.  To reach this goal, staff should be trained to know how to help residents with this goal. Studies have shown that residents with dementia spend most of their time engaged in no activity at all.

The best approach to see if a nursing home is the best fit for your loved one is to visit. Do the residents seem happy and comfortable? What kind of activities goes on throughout the day? Are they appropriate for dementia patients? As mentioned earlier, older folks with dementia are capable of experiencing joy and comfort. 

Pain Management 

With an estimated 35 million people around the world with dementia, about 50% experience regular pain. Despite this number, treatment of pain and current assessment continue to be inadequate. In addition, the distress and discomfort caused by the pain may be an underlying cause of behavioral symptoms, which can lead to inappropriate treatment with antipsychotic medications. 

It is clear that pain is probably very common among people with dementia. When looking for a nursing home, you want to find a facility and staff that fully understand that to provide the best care for your loved one. 

Pain is very common to the elderly due to the increased prevalence of age-related conditions, which remains true with dementia patients. However, dementia patients experience the intensity and affective component differently than their cognitively intact counterparts. Additionally, loss of communication leads to severe difficulties in detecting pain, especially in more severe stages of dementia. With dementia patients, pain is expressed with specific behaviors, such as agitation or withdrawal, that could mimic psychiatric conditions. 

To ensure that the nursing home will be the best option for your loved one and yourself, a great way to find out is to ask what kind of training staff and management do within the facility. What is the staff’s effort in learning more on how to help these patients? How aware is staff in detecting pain through expressed specific behaviors? 

Food and Fluid Consumption

Having regular and nutritious meals may become a challenge for people living with early and late stages of dementia. They might feel overwhelmed with all the food choices, might forget to eat, or think that they already ate. 

It is important to keep proper nutrition to keep a body strong and healthy. For a dementia patient, poor nutrition may increase behavioral symptoms and may cause weight loss.

Some of the things you may want to note are how often does the center provides food, what their menu consists of and what time are the set meal times. Some of the things to keep in mind include:

  • Cut down on refined sugars
  • Providing a balanced diet with a variety of foods
  • Limit food that has high cholesterol or saturated fat
  • Limit food with high sodium or use less salt

Memory Care

In the early stages of dementia, memory loss and confusion may be mild. In the later stages, memory loss becomes far severe. A person may not recognize family members, call family members by other names, or forget relationships, or forget the purpose of everyday items, such as a pen or fork. 

With this information in mind, it is important to note what kind of memory care is done at the nursing home. Although dementia patients may do well at an assisted living facilities, family members may want to choose memory care as the disease progresses. 

Physical Restraint-free care

A restraint is anything that hinders movement or restricts freedom. There has been significant research that has advised against using physical restraint in hospitals and nursing homes, yet older adults continue to die or become injured. Restraints are dangerous and often entail more risks than benefits. Causes of death by physical-restraints include:

  • Asphyxiation
  • Strangulation
  • Cardiac arrest

When looking into nursing homes, it is best to ask staff what alternatives to restraints are used. What types of education are provided to staff to better understand behaviors, such as communication and other forms of interventions? 

With the intentions of providing the best care for our loved ones, educating ourselves with current knowledge of the risks of restraints and better alternatives are the best ways to show that we care for our loved ones. 

How can The Carlson Law Firm Help

We know that you choose a nursing home and trust that its staff will care for our loved ones. If your loved one has experienced any form of abuse in the nursing home, get in contact with one of our nursing abuse attorneys. We care, we understand. 

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