“Dad really had to go into a Nursing Home,” Janet, the daughter told me. She then told of how difficult it had become for her mom to take care of her dad.  Her dad Jerry had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease several years earlier. Since his admission to the Nursing Home, Jerry had been constantly demanding that his wife take him home. After one month of this, her mom was starting to say she would bring him home.

Janet said it had been so very difficult for the family to take this step, of nursing home placement. That it had been done for her mother’s health and welfare as much as for her dad’s. She was dreading, yet one more difficult conversation with her mother. Of course she could just not say anything and let her mom go get her dad, even though she knows this would not end well for either of them. Avoiding a difficult conversation, is always choosing temporary peace over certain conflict.

This time Janet chose to open up to her mother and tell her what this would mean to Janet, if her mother brought dad back home. She began thinking through; what do I want, what do I want for mom, and what do I want for dad?   She then made  a date with her mother, when they could both enjoy some time together without distractions.

Janet began her conversation with her “I want” statements. After some discussion about what she wants for herself and the life she pictures for her mother, Janet talked about her dad. ” I want dad to be safe, well cared for, happy and living among people who aren’t strangers but really know him.” She told her mother she had just read this book that she would like to share with her, that will “help us get there.”

Please Get to Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance, is the story of my journey during the 14 years my mother lived in a nursing home following a stroke. Offering the reader specific ways to help families continue to provide quality of life for their loved one  while helping their loved one, form connections with the nursing home staff.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing


The statistics are in, 60% of Nursing Home residents never get a visitor. These elderly are the new orphans in society. What is so difficult about visiting in the nursing home?

  • When you observe so many visiting families, they just don’t seem to know what to do. Families will arrive with young children and nothing for them to eat, drink, or do. The children end up chasing each other up and down the halls and then being told to be quiet and sit down.
  • Family members will come in, stand around the elder, looking down at her saying how “good” she looks. And they soon are searching for something to say, especially with an elder who doesn’t respond.
  • The family may not have visited for some time, but once there, they spend their precious time questioning the elder. If the elder has short term memory problems they can’t answer these question, yet the elder does realize somehow they are letting down the questioner.

I have observed a very caring family come into a nursing home for the first time, to visit their mother following a very debilitating stroke. Their mom had been living independently and just within a week was unable to speak, walk, and take care of the most basic of self care. The family stood around the woman’s bed, looking down at her, as a group. After about 10 minutes of small talk about how she looks, the conversation changed to where they would be going together for lunch.

Just a week earlier, this woman would have been included in lunch talk, or maybe they would all have gathered at her apartment. Now, in this short span of time she was an onlooker, not a participant and they were now visiting her in a nursing home.

No doubt it is very physically and emotionally draining to visit a loved one in a Nursing Home. The answer comes from being prepared for the visit, and in many cases creating a new normal for your visit. Planning can change what is just visiting in a nursing home, to a new connection and for children even good memories.

Please download the free gift: “Come in – the door’s open”

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing