Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

50+: Live Better, Longer

Font Size

Reaching Out to Nursing Home Residents

By
WebMD Feature

May 1, 2000 (San Francisco) -- If you want to improve life for a loved one in a nursing home far away, here are some ideas.

First, keep in contact with your loved one: cards, phone calls, and photographs do make a difference. Friends don't need to be around the corner, as long as a strong message of caring is communicated, says Mary Brintall Peterson, PhD, program specialist in aging at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. "What's important is the perception that there is someone out there who really cares about me," she says.

Recommended Related to Healthy Seniors

National Caregiving Organizations

AARP Administration on Aging Alzheimer's Association Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving Eldercare Locator Family Caregiver Alliance Housing and Urban Development Medicare National Alliance for Caregiving National Center for Assisted Living National Hospice and Palliative Care Center Supportive Ho...

Read the National Caregiving Organizations article > >

Call the federally run Eldercare Locator at 1-(800)-677-1116 to get the name of the ombudsman at the Area Agency on Aging nearest the nursing home. Call the ombudsman and find out if there's a local group, like the Little Brothers -- Friends of the Elderly, that visits people in nursing homes. The best thing is for visitors to come regularly.

Call the administrator of the nursing home to see whether your loved one could have a pet. "Say, 'I think this is something Dad needs,' " suggests William H. Thomas, MD, the founder of the Eden Alternative. "What's going to change this monstrous $70 billion industry are these phone calls. It's an elder liberation movement -- we're seeking to put an end to the sterile medical institution."

Read Life Worth Living for arguments that can counteract fears that children and animals will spread germs and cause allergies to flare. Thomas says these fears can be resolved.

Jane Meredith Adams is a San Francisco writer. Her work has appeared in The Boston Globe and numerous other publications. She is also the co-author of The Last Time I Wore a Dress (Riverhead, 1998).

Today on WebMD

blueberries
Eating for a longer, healthier life.
romantic couple
Dr. Ruth’s bedroom tips for long-term couples.
 
womans finger tied with string
Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
man reviewing building plans
Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
 
fast healthy snack ideas
Article
how healthy is your mouth
Tool
 
dog on couch
Tool
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
champagne toast
Slideshow
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Quiz
 
Man feeding woman
Slideshow
two senior women laughing
Article