You may expect that your family member’s laundry is the last thing that you’ll worry about when they move into a nursing home. After all, what could be so complicated about laundry? Nursing homes are equipped with machines that can handle the job, and employ a staff to sort and deliver the clean laundry. Right? Well, I’m truly sorry to tell you that you’re only half right; let me explain.
There is a cat named Homer that roams my Dad’s nursing home in search of socks. Once Homer finds them, he hoards them. On special occasions, such as his birthday or a holiday, he wears them. Funny story, isn’t it? Is it a true story, you ask? Well no, but I really wish it was! That way, at least there would be some explanation for what happened to all of my Dad’s socks. As a new resident, he had more than two weeks’ worth of socks. Slowly, this number dwindled, until ALL of his socks just disappeared. Did we receive a warning about this so we could buy more socks for him? No, none was given. Instead, one day when I visited, I noticed that he had his shoes on with no socks. Yes, he was sockless. It may look trendy for men to go sockless in the summer, but I’m willing to bet that no caregiver wants to see their loved one without socks, no matter what time of year it is.
Upon my inquiry into this matter, the answer I received from the aides was “there was none in his drawer.” I wondered out loud where all of his socks could be, yet no one had any answers for me. One of my Dad’s aides even ventured to look for his socks in the dressers of some of the other men on his floor, but to no avail. Thankfully, another resident was happy to lend my Dad a pair of his socks. I realized that the next day, I would need to investigate this laundry mystery.
Well, what I discovered did not put my mind at ease. It seemed that no one in the laundry department could find my Dad’s socks, not one pair. Where had they all disappeared to? Maybe they were in the socks without mates bin? No, not there. Maybe they hadn’t been washed yet. No, all the soiled laundry was washed and accounted for. Since I was unable to solve this laundry mystery, I decided that my theory about Homer must be true. Or, that maybe all my Dad’s socks were abducted by aliens and tossed into a black hole somewhere in our galaxy.
All jokes aside, the issue of laundry for nursing home residents is one that family members and caregivers must continually keep watch over. The sock incident that I discuss in this post is not the first or only problem that we encountered with my Dad’s laundry. To avoid these problems, you may find it easier to take your loved one’s soiled clothes home with you and wash them yourself. If he or she is incontinent, ask the aides to separate the clean from the soiled clothing, and place them in their designated laundry bags (which you should supply). Also, so there are no misunderstandings, make it clear to the staff that you are taking your family member’s laundry home to clean.
A truism about your loved one’s wardrobe in a nursing home is that something will inevitably disappear, shrink, or become damaged. It’s a good idea to keep an itemized list of all their clothing, right down to the number of pairs of socks in their drawer. Additionally, make sure that all their clothing is clearly labeled with their name and room number. I also recommend that you visit the nursing home’s laundry department and find out what their specific procedures are. When you follow the steps I’ve outlined in this post, you will hopefully save yourself from some, if not all, laundry-related troubles.