Adapting to nursing home life through small changes

A recent reader comment on my blog asked me to share long-standing changes I have made to adapt to life in an LTC facility. I have previously written about some changes that I feel allow me to have more dignity. Here’s a few more.


When I originally moved into my first private room, I wished it looked more homelike. But that was a nursing home 15 years ago and the room looked like one in a hospital. I had little furniture that would fit cohesively in my living space.

Over time, I made my computer area look more like an office. I bought draperies that better reflected my taste. Although I was not able to have the room painted a color I preferred, I did hang my own wall decorations and added a collage photo frame.

I felt invaded when most staff and visitors knocked on the door and walked right on in without waiting for my answer. It was particularly embarrassing when I was on the bedside commode. Even though I did my best to implore staff and visitors to knock and wait for an answer, few of them did.

To try and improve the situation, I asked if a privacy curtain could be added in my room. I received permission and the curtain was suspended just past the bathroom where it would not interfere with the rest of the room. Unfortunately, the privacy curtain did not deter some staff and my doctor from continuing to knock and walk right in.

A few years later an afternoon shift aide asked how I felt about being transported to the bathroom on my shower chair. Then the shower chair would be used like a bedside commode. The aide realized pushing the shower chair over the toilet and closing the door would make toileting easier and give me privacy.

Her idea worked well and I used the shower chair in the bathroom. I was amazed how much easier it was for me. I was also pleased to no longer sit in the middle of my room on the bedside.

I used this shower chair toileting routine at that facility until I left. I use it at this facility as well, even though I share this bathroom with three other residents.

My shower chair allows me to sit on a seat not used by others. Since it serves as a transfer device, I can also use the bathroom that would otherwise be inaccessible to me.

One final note: Over many years, I have shared my preferences on care. This is important as all of my caregivers know how I feel about the care I receive and what I prefer.

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