A few weeks ago, man by the name of Omar Cain posted a video on my Facebook page. One look at the video and I fell in love! After seeing his video, I just had to talk with him and find out more about him. Turns out Omar is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) extraordinaire at the Golden LivingCenter in Stenton, PA. In addition to his CNA work, he also trains CNA students and those thinking about the field.

What I found is a man lucky enough to have found his calling and the desire and ability to share what he knows with others in such a way that they are inspired too. With everyone as busy as they are these days, I asked him to share a few really simple tips on how the families can best support their parents in a nursing home or assisted living community. Here they are:

  • Ensure S/He Gets the Attention & Care S/He Deserves

    Most nursing homes are much better than they used to be but there are still stories about negligence. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your loved one gets the care and attention s/he deserves.

    • Certainly it\’s important to make sure your loved one is clean but ‘clean\’ is more than that. It\’s also about making sure other details are attended to as well such as making sure their hair has at least been combed.
    • Is s/he free of bruises? Do you notice an inordinate amount of injuries? If there is some bruising or cuts or scrapes, are you comfortable with the explanation?
    • Is s/he dressed at an appropriate time? For example, when you visit just before lunch, is s/he still in her nightgown?
    • Is s/he wearing appropriate clothing? Is s/he over dressed or underdressed for the temperature.
    • Is s/he left alone in one location for the entire day?

    Things like these may not indicate negligence but if you\’re not sure, ask questions until you are.

  • Visit and/or Call Frequently
    Visit as often as possible. The more the staff knows you\’re concerned, the more they will be too. If possible, visit at different times and days and let as many staff members see you as possible.

    Although it is ideal that it is the family visiting, that\’s not always possible. There are, however, lots of other people who can, (such as family members of other residents, college kids who are exploring this field, people from their house of worship, social workers, etc.) Ask your surrogate to be on the look-out for the items above. However, if you can\’t visit as often as you would like, whether or not you have someone else check, be sure you call frequently. Ask for the charge nurse and get an update on your loved one\’s status – again, so they know you are interested.

  • Inventory Your Loved One\’s Belongings
    When your loved one is first admitted, do an inventory of everything your loved one brought with her. This includes everything from clothes to blankets to stuffed animals and pictures. Then sign and make a copy for the nursing home and ask them to sign your copy. This lets the staff know that you know what your loved one brought. It also means that if anything goes missing, the nursing home will have to replace it.
  • As Omar says, “I know these sound pretty simple but the littlest things go a long way!”

    © Copyright AgeWiseLiving™ 2010 You can find information about how to talk with your aging loved ones in “The Ultimate Caregiver\’s Success System” by going to www.AgeWiseLiving.com. While there, sign up for Barbara\’s free monthly newsletter. You can also contact Barbara by calling toll-free (877) AGE-WISE. Barbara E. Friesner is the country\’s leading Generational Coach and expert on issues affecting seniors and their families. She is an adjunct professor at Cornell University.