Depression & Nursing Homes

Nursing homes mainly have two sides: acute care and long-term care. Either of these decisions will require an adjustment period for you and your loved one. Any monumental change can cause mental stress on any person. When you completely uproot a person from their “normal” life and put them in a different setting, you should expect a mental shift. Think about if you were to move states right now, there would be an adjustment period. So why do we not expect that to happen when we put a loved one in a nursing home?

Depression is common in a lot of people who are needing rehabilitation. I mean if a week ago you could walk and were independent, and now you don’t have that freedom anymore you would also need an adjustment period. One goal of SNFs is to get your loved one back to or close to their independence level before they came in. Nursing Homes don’t cause depression themselves, it’s the isolation and life change that puts them in a depressive state.

One thing that nursing homes help with, besides rehabilitation and nursing care, is isolation. In a nursing home you are surrounded by people. Daily activities help encourage residents to get out of their rooms and socialize. Nowadays most SNFs offer more than just Bingo and coloring books. Therefore, it is important when you are looking for a Nursing Facility to look for a “lively” building. Looking for a variety of activities and seeing if people participate in them. Believe it or not, residents love to talk. Ask some of the residents when touring what they think of the building.

While we can’t personally do this next tip to help combat depression, we highly recommend it. Visiting. Your family members want to see you! They want to see their friends and loved ones. Humans are social creatures and you are the only sense of normalcy at this point in time. If you’re long distance set up FaceTime’s or phone calls, or even send them snail mail.

Depression is hard to deal with. You don’t have energy to do anything that you once loved to do. People around you think you’re just sad 24/7 when you actually feel nothing. Loved ones try to make you feel better by doing things, when in reality you don’t want to do anything. No one thing is going to “fix” you in that moment, but everyone is trying to do anything to make you happy. While we know that happiness isn’t a constant state of emotion, we also need to know that sadness isn’t either. This too will pass, but it is going to take patience and encouragement.


Caregiver Burnout

Burnout. It is something you have most likely experienced, even if you couldn’t identify it. You know; the feeling of being in constant stress, being emotionally drained, and not being able to meet demands of tasks. This prolonged feeling continues, and you start to lose the ability and motivation to keep doing what you’re doing. It feels like you’re spiraling out of control and the exhaustion is too much, but you don’t know how to make it all stop – so you just physically stop. You give up.

Most people pair the idea of burnout with work. Work is a high stress situation for most and since the pandemic hit and the staffing crisis happened, it seems as if one person is doing three people’s job. However, you can experience burnout in any part of life. One part that isn’t talked about often enough is caregiver burnout.

Caregiver burnout is a touchier subject for most. Why? Because it involves another human who is depending on you. You have the added stress of feeling like you failed another person on top of your own emotions. Caregiver burnout tends to happen when the caregiver isn’t getting what they need. It sounds cheesy but the idea that you can’t fill someone else’s cup if yours is empty is true. Therefore, we have compiled a list of tips and tricks on how to help combat caregiver burnout.

  1. Make time for yourself: Something that sounds so simple is often one of the first things we give up. Weather you spend quiet time with your morning coffee, you hit the gym, or you journal, it is vital that you make time for yourself. Take time for you each day by setting aside at least 20 minutes. You must take care of yourself to take care of others.
  2. Connect with other caregivers: Isolation is the easiest place to put yourself in. But in today’s day and age you don’t even have to leave your house to find a group. Social media has made it possible to find a support system online. If you’re more of an in-person type of person, do a quick Google search on support systems near you. Having people to connect with over a common topic makes you feel less alone.
  3. Take breaks: Don’t forget to take breaks throughout the day. Go for a walk around your neighborhood or take an extra-long bath. Schedule a movie to see with friends, go out to dinner, or go shopping. Whatever it is you like to do – do it. It is important to recharge and schedule time away so you can just be.
  4. Take trips: This one might sound weird, but schedule weekend getaways or a week-long vacation. This helps you recharge. You can investigate respite care or hospice care for when you are gone. Start small with a couple hour drive getaway too fit your comfort level. But don’t forget to live your life – you’re loved one would want it this way.

Selecting a SNF

Selecting a skilled nursing facility (SNF) can be hard. There are a lot of options out there and there are many things to consider. This is a big decision to make. However, there are some things to look for to help make this process easier. Below is a list that has been compiled from industry professionals on what they tell their friends and what they look for themselves when selecting a facility.

TOUR any facility you are considering. Tour multiple buildings so you can get a feel of the building. If you can’t make it in person for a tour, ask for a virtual tour, the facility’s website, any pictures they have, and their social media handles. For an in-person tour, make sure to go twice with one of the visits being
during a mealtime.

WATCH the interaction between staff members and the residents who live there. It shouldn’t be robotic. Residents should be happy and talking to the staff like they are friends.

LOOK for cleanliness. Most buildings will look clean, however you can tell if they deep clean it by looking for dust on the picture frames. While most people think smell is an inevitable part of nursing facilities, it is not. Smell is a sign of poor cleanliness.

MEALTIME should include people eating. If you notice the residents are picking at their food and aren’t eating it, that is a sign the food is not enjoyable. Also, the staff members should be engaging with the residents during mealtime. Food is one of the main things your loved one will care about when living in a SNF.

FEEL is important. You should feel comfortable and like you are at a second home (although there is no place like your own home). You should not feel like you are in a hospital (sterile and cold). The building should be lively and friendly.

LOCATION is another thing to consider. While most people want the closest option to them for visiting purposes, remember at the end of the day you can drive away but your loved one cannot. Pick the better facility even if it is farther away. Your loved one will thank you for it.

RATINGS are an insight, however they are not the complete picture. Google, Yelp, and Facebook ratings can give you a small glimpse to what the building is like, however the healthcare industry cannot reply to a lot of reviews due to HIPPA. It may look to you like a company doesn’t care about their reviews when they simply cannot handle the situation publicly. If you have concerns about a building’s reviews, ask them about it.



Skilled Nursing Facilities Vs. Impatient Rehab Care

One of the most asked questions we get is what’s the difference between skilled nursing facilities and impatient rehab care? To an outsider of this industry all your options for placement and rehabilitation needs can become overwhelming. So, we compiled a breakdown of what each option offers you. 

Remember at the end of the day, this is a personal decision that no one else can make for you. The true differences are skilled nursing facilities offer a home like setting for rehabilitation rather than staying in a hospital environment, they provide individualized treatment plans rather than group therapy and are covered by different payor sources. 

Top Considerations Skilled Nursing Facility Inpatient Rehab Care
Disciplines Provided
Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy
Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy
Program intensity
1 to 2 ½ hours of daily individual therapy treatment
At least 3 hours of daily therapy; including group therapy
Average length of stay
14 to 60 days
10 to 35 days
Access to physicians
Physician visits 1 to 3 times a week; NP or PA 1-3 times a week; however, depending on the patients needs they can be seen more
Daily physician visits
RN, LVNs, CNAs, CMAs-specialize in Rehabilitative Care
Registered nurses who specialize in rehabilitative care
Costs and Medicare coverage
Uses the Medicare Part A Skilled Nursing Benefits when using your Medicare Part A, Other Medicare replacement plans may have different benefits
Uses the Medicare Part A Acute Days. May be partially covered, depending on facility; may require a deductible; Medicare Replacement plans may have different benefits
Treatment Days Per week
Up to 6 Days
Up to 6 Days