15 Nursing Home Rules

By: Wendy Wu, R.D., M.S.

You or your family member has just been admitted into a nursing home for rehabilitation. You’re flustered because it’s a new environment and you don’t know what to do. Not to worry, I’ve provided you with a list of nursing home rules for you to follow.

1) Know your medications. Make a list with names and the dosage. What are they for? How long do you have to take them? What are the side effects? Each time the doctor visits, make sure you know what medications are being ordered or adjusted. Download medication planner here.

Medication Planner

2) Try to get rid of medications you don’t need. Ask your doctor.

Ex: Laxatives- eat high fiber foods instead, unless you’re on a low fiber/residue diet

Antacids- Avoid the foods that causes you stomach upset

Vitamins/Minerals- Are you getting enough through your diet?

Water pills- Did the edema subside? Ask your doctor to lower the doses to prevent unintentional weight loss.

Taking many different medications 1) can make you full (interfering with your nutritional status), 2) causes many different side effects, 3) may cause food-medication interactions if not properly monitored.

3) Be nice to the staff. They’re the ones that will be taking care of you for the next few weeks-months-years. Have your family bring them snacks, believe me they really appreciate them.

4) Motivate yourself. You are the only one that can help yourself. Go to your scheduled therapy. Work with your physical therapist. Know what exercises you should be doing on the unit with the CNA (nurses aide). Try to be as independent as possible.


5) Go to recreational activities. Relax your mind and keep busy. I’m sure the recreation department will have something for you to enjoy. Pet Therapy. Arts & Crafts. Books. Choir/Singing. Movies. Games. Manicures. Computers. Trips. Music Therapy.

Recreation in Nursing Homes

6) You have to eat in order to get better. The kitchen has to cook enough food to feed hundreds of people so the food may not what you are used to eating. Nursing home food should not be fried or highly seasoned so if the food does not satisfy your taste, speak with a dietitian or staff member for alternatives.

Typical Meal

7) If you’re scared of your roommate, and you really cannot stand sleeping next to the person ask the social worker to change your room if possible.

8) Make sure the Doctor, Social Worker, Dietitian, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, and Recreation leader sees you within a week.

9) If you’re feeling blue, ask for a psychological evaluation before agreeing to take psych medications.

10) Pick a Nursing Home with 5 stars and a reputation to maintain. You’ll know concerns will be taken care of immediately. Ask to see their survey results. Are they JCAHO accredited?

11) Ring the call bell only when necessary. Your aide has many patients to take care of, so a wait is to be expected. If you need help walking to the bathroom DO NOT go by yourself. Your bones are fragile, and you really don’t want surgery for broken bones if you fall.

12) If you feel uncomfortable being taken care of by certain staff members, don’t be afraid to say something. Most likely, if they are rude to you, they are rude to other patients. Abuse in any form (verbal or nonverbal) is NOT TOLERATED. Do not be afraid to speak up.

13) Attend team “care plan” meetings to discuss your progress and any concerns you may have with your care. Usually a invitation is mailed out to your family and a personal invitation should be given to you by the social worker. However, you do not have to wait for a meeting to discuss your progress. Just ask.

14) Mistakes happen, be on top of things! Did the nurse forget to give you a medication or supplement? Is your insulin timed with your meals? Did the nurses aid exercise with you today? Are your wounds dressed properly? Did you get your bath? Did you get what you ordered for dinner? Did the recreation leader bring the book you wanted? Did the doctor order the medication you wanted?

15) Socialize. Make some friends. Time flies when you’re having fun.

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Happy Dietitian








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