National Nursing Home Week Highlights Positives Of Elder Care

Staff members at Lakeview Nursing Center keep residents busy with activities, like playing music. The fun and games keep their minds off their pains and sadness. A visit by some animals from the Humane Society also puts smiles on their faces.

But even after seeing all of that, the decision to put a loved one in a nursing home can still be heartbreaking.

"Very, very hard," explained Norma Houck whose mother recently moved to Lakeview.  "I'd heard all my life, don't ever put me in a nursing home, please."

"I see a lot of tears and sadness, but eventually as someone comes to our facility or another, they learn to adjust and visit and participate in some of the events," Lynne Denton, a social worker at Lakeview, said.

Staff members are there to assist not only the residents, but also family members in making the difficult transition. Experts say before you decide on a facility, you should visit.

"I think people should be able to explore a facility at any time and feel comfortable," Denton said. "They should go on and find that the staff are caring to the other patients, the environment should be clean, odor free if possible."

Nursing homes can provide the social and nutritional needs that seniors can't get at home. People who have made the transition say they can see the benefits.

"It was the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life, probably the best thing I've ever done," said Clem Dellenger whose mother and father lived at Lakeview.

Residents here agree that the decision to move was a good one.

"I love it here," said Sybil Heflin, an 82-year-old Lakeview resident.  "I told my daughter when she came the first time, I says, I won't never come home."

There are resources on the internet to help you look for a good nursing home including a government web site that posts results from required yearly inspections.  The Health Care Financing Administration provides yearly survey results as well as tips on choosing a nursing home.