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Myths about Nursing Homes
Debunking Common Nursing Home Myths

Nursing Care Today

Today's care received in nursing homes is very different from the care given many years ago. In the past, the nursing home looked very similar to a hospital setting. A place to recovery.

The changes meet the needs of residents and families, and nursing homes are patient-centered.

But when asked, "How do you perceive living in a nursing home facility," consumers maintain perceptions formed by the care given decades ago and avoid moving there at all costs. Today, if you visited the facilities using advanced care methods, you would quickly adjust that misconception.

To help adjust your perception and dispel common myths that consumers have about nursing home facilities, let's take a closer look at the myths and find the reality that exists today. Source: American Health Care Association (AHCA), lists below several myths vs. realities of living in a nursing facility.

Myths About Nursing Homes

Myth: It's a hospital

Nursing Home Myths vs Reality
Nursing Home Myths vs Reality

Although skilled nursing homes provide similar services that hospitals do like medical, rehabilitative and nursing care, by far it is not one.

For the residents living in a nursing care facility, they're fortunate to receive the necessary care needed to stay safe and independent as possible. They maintain a higher level of quality of life over the one that lives alone at home.

Other factors that make nursing facilities different from hospitals:

  • They do not have restrictive visiting hours
  • They offer residents communal dining spaces to share meals with people they know
  • They offer physical activities on a daily basis
  • They offer mental stimulation
  • They offer mental stimulation
  • They offer social outings and activities

Myth: It's the last place I'll live

For residents too weak, diagnosed with a terminal condition, or elderly, this is true, especially if one cannot perform self-care and have no one to care for them at home.

But for those who come to a nursing home to receive rehabilitation or post-surgical care, they can return home or move to an independent facility as soon as they're able.

Myth: It's a public setting and it offers no privacy

You have options; stay in a private room or share one with another resident. In either case, the room is your's. Nurses, visitors, and other residents respect your privacy. Even if the door's opened to the hallway, people will knock before entering.

For residents who choose to treat their rooms as a private space, will visit others in the common areas of the nursing home.

Myth: Residents living there are sick and dying

While nursing homes serve the elderly, terminally ill; they also proved recovery for people who heal from accident or surgery. The latter move on to independent facilities or home.

Myth: Nursing homes are for people with memory problems

People living with memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer's disease may choose a nursing home facility to receive help and care. They are not able to maintain self-care.

Alzheimer's residents live in another section of the facility; one that has safeguards in place to ward off wandering. In the Alzheimer's wing, they receive specialized care: nutrition, exercise, social stimulation and properly controlled medication.

Myth: Residents are wards of the state and have no rights

Nursing home residents have patient rights and certain protections under the law. The nursing home must list and give all new residents a copy of these rights. Read Nursing Home Resident Rights.

Nursing homes honor each resident and allow each to be involved in the care plan. Family members have the right to be involved too. Each has the right to voice preferences and concerns to staff and to one another.

As a resident, you have choices in treatment decisions. At any time, you have the right to give that decision responsibility to a family member by preparing an advance directive.

Myth: Care is inadequate

In most cases, you receive better care in a nursing home, surrounded by a qualified and trained nursing staff.

All nursing homes receive internal quality assurance checks and constant observation by a state agency. State inspectors visit the facility and monitor the quality of care given. The inspectors make unscheduled visits to the nursing home once a year to check for compliance. When an inspector finds compliance problem, it's cited and required to submit immediate correction.

Do not ignore or hesitate to discuss concerns with the director of nursing or the administrator. It's their job.

Myth: Nursing homes are dirty and smell

What you smell is disinfectant to maintain cleanliness.

Incontinence is prevalent in nursing homes because elderly people have problems using the toilet. Some odor exists, unfortunately. If your loved one living in a nursing home is not changed and cleaned properly, report incidents to the director of nursing or the administrator.

Myth: Nursing homes serve undernourished canned foods

Nursing homes today take food service to a higher level; resident-centered nutrition. Each resident chooses when they want to eat and where. It's very different from the past.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have written guidelines for facilities on how food's prepared so that it's nutritious. These guidelines also affect the food value, flavor, and appearance. It's required that food be palatable, attractive, and at the proper temperature. If residents refuse to eat, the facility uses other nutritive substitutes.

Myth: I cannot share a room with my wife

Married couples living in nursing homes, stay together. It's a requirement in your patient's bill of rights.

The staff, visitors, and employees respect the privacy of couples living together.

Myth: Residents are lonely

For the residents living without family involvement, no matter where one lives, it's lonely.

Nursing homes encourage residents to make friends and participate as much as possible in scheduled activities and outings.

Friends and family are welcome anytime. .

Myth: Residents receive sedation

The patient's bill of rights gives each resident the right to know what medication is given. Government regulations protects your rights and requires that a consultant pharmacist and state inspectors review residents' medications.

You also have the right to refuse treatment.

Family members and residents can choose to participate in the care plan and have the right to question the facility staff on any medication or treatment given.

Myth: Residents are physically restrained

Due to technology, physical restraints are not needed for residents who wander.

Residents and family members have the right to know what's prescribed by the physician to restrain a person,

If you have a concern about a family member living in a nursing home, speak with a doctor, nurse, or administrator, when or if a restraint is improperly applied.

Carol Marak
Carol Marak

After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.