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How can I remain close to my partner who is in a nursing home?

Anthony Cirillo
Geriatric Medicine
In the journal Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, researcher and Professor Robin Stadnyk found that non-institutionalized spouses and their institutionalized partners remained very close defying the common assumption that marriage ends when one spouse enters a care facility. They found ways to continue the closeness, watching TV together, studying travel brochures, taking lessons together.

Nursing homes need to nurture this. Provide quiet, private spaces, adapt privacy policies, knock before you enter, help them find things to do together. Have a written policy, train staff, and protect vulnerable residents.
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There are several things you can do to remain close to your partner who is in a nursing home.

  • First, see if you can eat meals together. Many times, facilities encourage this and some may have the ability to work with your schedule.
  • Second, determine how much time you can be together each day. If there are times when rest is needed, therapy is scheduled or activities are occurring, try to work around this also. All of these can be important to the person who is in the nursing home. 
  • Third, understand that home visits are very difficult to arrange and may not be allowed due to the level of care that your partner needs.
  • Fourth, try to bring important family events to your partner in the facility. Many places have a room that family gatherings can occur in. 
  • Fifth, ask your partner what their expectations are. Communication is key. 
  • Sixth, maintain a healthy balance for both of you. This can be difficult, but it is important as you need to maintain your health. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.