Something to hand all residents' families

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James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor

Raise your hand if you've ever had a family that just didn't “get it” when dealing with the staff at your nursing home or long-term care facility. OK, put your hand down now. It's time to learn why Marie Marley could be your next best friend. 

Marley, as I've recently learned, is the author of the book “Come Back Early Today.” If it sounds familiar, maybe it should. It's been out for a little while and the snippets I've seen make it look like a stunner.

Written as a first-person account of how she dealt with a beloved companion's Alzheimer's disease, it comes off as clever and flowing. This is not easy to do with such a heart-wrenching topic.

But seven years of caring for “a delightfully, colorful and eccentric Romanian gentleman” with Alzheimer's helped her earn her stripes. She has not only the street cred, but she's also willing to share lessons learned.

This is good for the civilians who need to identify with others in their saddened shoes. It also is good for the long-term caregiver.

A medical grant writer, Marley has become her own brand, publishing a blog, monthly newsletter and website about Alzheimer's care issues.

That's where you find gold. One of her recent blog posts should go into your admissions packet for all families. She calls it “Tips for Interacting with Nursing Home Staff.” (Some have also described it as “10 Surefire Ways to Make Enemies At a Nursing Home.”)

I like all 10, but here are three in particular to whet your appetite for more:

“4. Don't ignore input and suggestions from the staff. They spend far more time with your loved one than you do.”

“5. Don't expect miracles. Specifically, don't expect staff members to achieve things you yourself cannot accomplish.”

“8. Don't be a chronic complainer. Everyone needs a compliment from time to time. Find something positive to say when you can and be sincere about it.” 

(Check out the full list at in the “caregiver blog” section.)

Long-term care operators have plenty of reasons to complain about journalists, authors and others who take out their frustrations on them. This is a refreshing case of the opposite taking place.

Marley's list pays homage to your job. Now it's up to you to live up to the plateau she has set you on, and pass her good words around.


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