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Nursing home tips for residents, by residents

June 11, 2009
by ebarbera
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I asked some experienced nursing home residents if they had any advice they'd like to share with residents who were just arriving, in order to make their stay more pleasant. I was surprised by the diversity of their responses and the speed with which they gave them. Please add your suggestions to the comments section, and feel free to share with residents at your own facility.

· Find at least one person you trust to confide in

· Attend recreational activities

· Get a newspaper subscription and crossword puzzle books

· Read the Bible (and other religious texts) and pray a lot

· Know your medication so you can double check what they're giving you

· Be friendly and polite

· Make your room your own by decorating

· Know that you're not alone in thinking, "I never thought I'd be in a place like this."

· Read a lot of books

· Accept where you are and remember, there are worse places you could be

· Be as independent as possible

· Don't be afraid to try new recreational activities, because you might find something you really enjoy

· Try to bring activities from your home life into your new life in the nursing home. For example, if you used to garden, bring plants into your room. If you used to do needlework, continue to do it.
Dr. Barbera is an author and a licensed psychologist consulting in long-term care facilities in the New York City area.
She frequently lectures on subjects related to psychology, aging, and nursing homes. Dr. Barbera is available for private consulting with organizations, institutions, and individuals around eldercare issues. Visit her personal blog at


Dr. Barbera is an author and a licensed...




I watched an Oprah rerun yesterday about a woman who was burned very badly. When Oprah asked her if she ever felt sorry for herself, she said, "Yes, I allow myself so much time each day to feel sorry for my situation... about five minutes".

I like that comment. I don't think we should deny that we sometimes feel sad.

I also think if we actually set aside time to feel bad, we will realize that doing so does not make us feel any better.

I agree with these resident comments. But I think one more needs to be added.

Don't feel badly what you feel bad. (About your situation)

In fact, it might even be helpful to give yourself a certain amount of time each day to feel badly. I would assign five minutes a day.


Why do you suggest a resident should feel badly each day? Do you believe it is helpful for a resident to reflect on what is negatively affecting their mood? I ask this because my grandfather, when he was alive and in the nursing home, seemed to be out of touch with his feelings when we would visit him. I do not know if this would have helped him, but I would like to see your explanation.