Five common misconceptions about nursing homes

| Dena Boheim for The Catholic Spirit | July 17, 2013 | 0 Comments
Nursing homes provide high quality medical care and nurture mind, body and spirit by assuring that residents get social stimulation, exercise and proper nutrition. Bigstock photo

Nursing homes provide high quality medical care and nurture mind, body and spirit by assuring that residents get social stimulation, exercise and proper nutrition.
Bigstock photo

Nursing homes today are a far cry from what they were in the past. Policies and procedures, staffing, training, facilities and the quality of care have improved a great deal in the last couple of decades.

Nevertheless, because misconceptions remain, people often unnecessarily fear the move to a nursing facility. In fact, the term “nursing home” isn’t often used anymore; they are now commonly called skilled nursing or long-term care communities. Some of the more common myths include:

Myth #1: A nursing home is just an extension of the hospital.

Truth: While a nursing home does offer nursing care 24/7/365 like a hospital, it does not offer the same intensive level of care. A skilled nursing community also has different goals than a hospital, such as:

• Rehabilitating the resident and, if possible, returning the individual to his or her home.

• Delaying physical and emotional deterioration.

• Providing physical and emotional support for patient and family.

Myth #2: Once you enter a nursing home, you’ll never leave.

Truth: The main goal of a skilled nursing community is to rehabilitate residents in order to return to a more independent style of living, whether at home, with family members or in another type of care community. Skilled nursing communities are often a temporary option for residents who need weeks or months of assistance recuperating from surgery, heart attack or stroke.

Myth #3: All residents in nursing homes are confused.

Truth: There is a wide range of mental abilities among skilled nursing residents. Some are there only because of physical shortcomings; others may enter because they have become forgetful. While most residents fall somewhere in the middle, it is important to note that forgetfulness is often improved or reversed through the simple lifestyle changes a skilled nursing community provides, such as social stimulation, exercise, good nutrition and properly controlled medication.

Myth #4: Nursing homes smell.

Truth: Skilled nursing communities that have been cleaned effectively and furnished with modern materials that do not retain and absorb odors should not smell. In addition, skilled nursing communities that pay close attention to bathing and making sure residents change clothes regularly should not have musty or stale odors.

Myth #5: Nursing home food is terrible.

Truth: Although some residents may be on restricted or special diets ordered by their physicians, culinary directors and dieticians employed by skilled nursing communities plan menus that are appetizing, attractive and meet the residents’ nutritional needs. Most skilled nursing communities provide a variety of meal options so residents can choose meals they like. Many also offer an open dining plan that lets residents eat at the times most convenient to them.

Making a big life change is never easy, but outdated beliefs about nursing home care should not factor into decisions. Through better understanding of, and attention to, nutrition, emotional needs and the importance of enjoyable activities for mental and physical stimulation, today’s nursing homes not only provide residents with top-notch medical care, they also take pride in the art of nurturing mind, body and spirit.

Call Benedictine Health System for more information at (651) 259-6118, or visit its website at BHS is an affiliate of Catholic Senior Services. Visit Catholic Senior Services at for news and helpful information for senior care. Call the senior help line at (877) 420-6461.

Boheim is director of marketing for Benedictine Health System.

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Category: From Age to Age