Could my loved one actually be happier at a nursing home?

Yes. Many people are happier at a nursing facility, for a variety of reasons. First of all, nursing home residents have decreased feelings of intimidation because they are surrounded by others who similarly have decreasing abilities. Also, the intimidation of being in one’s own home but being far less able is taken away.

Some view a nursing home like a specialized college dormitory. Each resident has his or her own living space, plus access to common living areas. There are good opportunities for social interaction in places such as the dining room or TV lounge. Even individuals who were not particularly social earlier in life usually enjoy socialization at this point.

A good eldercare facility also offers daily activities. There typically is enough variety to have something that meets the needs of almost everyone. There can be group activities such as bingo or book clubs. There might be reading or jigsaw puzzles that can be made. If a favorite activity is not offered, a facility often will make an attempt to add it, as long as staff members know there is interest in it. Throughout, residents are monitored by nurses and nurse aides. Another plus is that a facility doctor is available, at least by phone, to answer questions and write orders as needed on a personalized basis.

Realize that once someone enters a nursing home, he or she may still leave for short trips or overnight stays with family or friends. If there is dissatisfaction with a certain facility, a transfer to another facility is always a possibility. It’s you and your loved one’s choice — always.

Being in a nursing home also can increase feelings of independence for an individual. How? A nursing home is a safe, secure place with care around the clock, good hot meals, socialization aspects usually not found at home, and activities available all day. Residents who might have felt they were a burden to their families can find some sense of comfort and satisfaction that they can live “on their own” and not be such a strain on their loved ones.