Many nursing home facilities offer laundry services for the residents. Usually the fee is quite reasonable and using the service is a great convenience for the family. In my experience, the laundry service currently costs about one dollar per day.
Some families prefer to do their loved one’s laundry. That’s fine, but be advised that there are dozens of other things that need to be done to care for your loved one in a nursing home. Using the service can lighten the load a little, and you won’t have to worry about if Mom or Dad will run out of clothes in the next day or two.
Labeling your loved one’s clothes is required. There is no way the laundry service will be able to remember whose clothes are whose – it all looks the same to them. I advise labeling with the last name, rather than a room number, because room assignments can change. Names will work for any laundry service, no matter how many times Dad moves – within the facility or to a new facility.
The laundry service will label clothes if asked, but this is one thing that I don’t think is worth the cost. Really, it’s not that much of a burden.
Understand that when laundry is done in this setting, they are interested in cleanliness and efficiency, not special care of delicate fabrics. The laundry detergent is probably cheap industrial strength, and they wash in warm and hot water. They probably only separate whites from colors and that’s it – no wash-and-wear, no delicate cycle, no cold water hand-wash. Everything goes in the dryer and they run the dryer on hot … like, really hot … to dry faster.
It is important to select durable clothing that can take the wear-and-tear of the nursing home laundry service. Here are a few tips on finding such clothing:
- Cotton clothing is at risk for shrinkage, even if the cotton is pre-shrunk. In my experience, T-shirts generally hold up well, but 100% cotton sweatpants, slacks and shorts tend to get shorter. Shrinkage continues to happen over time.
- Colors will fade.
- The heavy-duty laundering can cause labeling to come off or fade beyond recognition. It is a good idea to check the labeling every so often and replace or repair the label.
Keep delicate or special care items at your home; if you want your loved one to wear that nicer outfit for an event, bring it in right before it is needed.
- Before the event, talk to the staff and let them know your loved-one will need to change clothes for this event.
- Allow plenty of time to do the change. Then, have them change back into everyday clothes as soon as it is convenient.
- Take the special clothes home with you for cleaning, so they don’t accidentally end up in the laundry and get ruined. (Remember to bring a laundry bag in case an accident happens while Dad is wearing his suit.)
Anything can end up in the wash.
- My father’s shearling leather slippers were put in the laundry once. Shrunk them terribly and bleached the color out! Fortunately, they survived, and with repeated stretching, they are wearable again.
For more articles like this, see: Long Distance Caregiving, Resources for Central Virginia, Aging in Place, Care for the Caregiver, Resources for Central Virginia – Charlottesville, Resources for Central Virginia – Harrisonburg, Resources for Central Virginia – Staunton, Resources for Kansas City.
Do you need help managing the care of an elderly loved one in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, or Staunton Virginia or in Kansas City or Overland Park, Kansas?
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