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Robyn 4th Nov 2018 Healthy Ageing Advocate
Would anybody have any suggestions please.
In our residential aged care home we have an elderly resident who has some memory loss issues. Her husband does also and they stay together in everything they do. They have been placed with us permanently. She has a loud voice and her voice carries a big distance (saying all day that they "are leaving today as her legs are better now"). This is upsetting other residents. They are from Serbia and are fairly new to living in a residential home. They have both been very community minded and actively participated in the one and only Serbian club in our region. Also went to the club for lunch once a week. She is active and willing to help out eg 'wash dishes', also pushes a resident back to his room in his wheelchair after the resident has gone out for his cigarette.

Their financial situation is not good - in the hands of the governments guardianship board presently - which can take some time. (essentially this means that there is no money available at present). Going to their Serbian club and such is not an option. She is not accepting the statement that this is now their new home because of her cognitive ability.

Any suggestions please. I am the only lifestyle staff member - on limited hours. Also - limited volunteer support as yet.
Thank you all, I'm sure there are some solutions!
Wendy 6th Nov 2018 Recreation therapist
Hi Robyn
Giving her tasks is a wonderful way to help her develop a routine and feel more "at home" and connected to the facility. Meaning and purpose is important whether fully cognitive or living with dementia.

Presuming they speak more in Serbian, I would suggest putting a nice sign in their language in their rooms or on their door saying "This is my home" or "This is (whatever their names are)'s home" - perhaps with a photo of them on it to help support memory in relation to the concept of home.

Visitors from the relevant cultural community are very much valued by some of the residents in my home from a range of different backgrounds - just being able to speak in their own language and reminisce about their homeland lifts their mood even if they have short-term memory issues. I suggest you contact the Serbian Club executive (not just the staff at the club - more office-bearer of some type - they may even have a welfare officer) and see if they could assist in finding a suitable Serbian-speaker who might be willing to visit your residents now and then, or if they have any suggestions on a cost-effective way to maintain connection with that community (eg is there a free newsletter). They may also assist with the correct language/spelling for the sign - you can always use internet translation but sometimes it isn't quite right.

You might be able to work with the kitchen/servery to have some Serbian favourite food occasionally, even if it is more a sweet/cake/biscuit type food for a morning or afternoon tea for them?

Final thought - are they religious? Is there pastoral support in your facility or was there a church they attended that could approach on their behalf for emotional support/visits to them in their "new home"?

Best wishes, Wendy.

Vlasta 6th Nov 2018 Personal / Direct Care Worker / Leisure and Health Student
Hi Robyn,
I have a kind of the same background as them, so I would suggest try involving them in cooking or, depending on their mobility, setting up for parties, serving food and drinks at happy hour (if you organise one). Eastern Europe is all about food, cooking, making cakes, music, having parties, family and friends. Most men are handymen, fixing things around their houses, kind 'Jacks of all trades'. Women like taking care of everyone, like you said, but also cleaning their houses, generally they don't mind house work, as they like their houses to be clean. In general, they like to help, so whatever you do ask them for, I hope this has helped you a little to find activities for them. Good luck!
Warm regards
Robyn 6th Nov 2018 Healthy Ageing Advocate
Thank you so very much both Wendy and Vlasta. I will put these ideas into use asap. Robyn
Ruth 8th Nov 2018 Day Support Manager
Hi Robyn
Moving someone into a residential home when they have memory problems is always confusing for them. They will always say they want to go home. The best thing you can do is to show them their room with their own belongings in it and say this is your home, look this is your ...... pointing out different items which came in with them. They are seeking reassurance as they tend to feel unsafe. Transition for someone with memory problems is a long process and it is by reminding them this is there home, this is where their partner is, this is where their items are etc trying to get them to set the room up how they would have had it in their last home where possible also helps. Talk with any family or friends find out what a usual daily routine looked like, do like the others say and keep the wife busy, make her feel she is needed there. They will settle but it takes time. If she seems really distressed talk with her GP as sometimes they can give medication to help elevate the stress but only as a last resort. I agree with making the door to their room individual to them. if there is no one to ask about the past do a life story book with them so they give you the information you need to help you have communication with them on subjects they recognize. Good Luck Im sure it will all work out well.
Robyn 8th Nov 2018 Healthy Ageing Advocate
Thank you so much Ruth, really valuable suggestions to this complicated - bankrupt+dementia+admission to permenant residential care home. Robyn
Solange 8th Nov 2018 Diversional Therapist
Hi, Robyn. Some clients take a long time to settle into care facilities. Not being there full time poses a challenge for you. Do they have family visitors? Family visits should be encouraged as much as possible to talk, play games and cook Serbian food. You may also request volunteers (there is government department who selects volunteers speaking other languages) to come to the facility at their convenience a couple of times a week to talk and reminisce with them. The Serbian Club may also help by discounting prices for them to attend celebrations. You may also try your local Church community board to request kind Serbian people to visit them. They need distraction until they settle in. All the best.
Robyn 9th Nov 2018 Healthy Ageing Advocate
Thank you once again Solange. Yes you're correct, not being there fulll time poses challenges. No offspring - only one God daughter. I will look further into the Serbian Club.
Thank you Robyn

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