Is my loved one unhappy in their nursing home? When to consider moving

Unhappy loved one in Nursing home

Moving into a nursing home is a big deal and for many it will feel like a home from home once settled in. The home will often improve quality of life as it provides care, friendship, activities, and security. However, for some, the nursing home they have chosen might not be quite what they expected despite all the time and effort they, or their loved one put into choosing the perfect home. There are a wide range of reasons why someone might start to feel unhappy and often your loved one will avoid talking to you about it as they don’t want to burden you, so it can be down to you to decipher their actions.

In this article we share some of the signs of unhappiness to look out for and when you should consider moving them to a new nursing home.

Isolating themselves

If your loved one is choosing to stay in their room, rather than socialise with other residents, go out or accept visitors it could be because they are unhappy. Isolating themselves at the beginning is likely to be because they are unsure of their new surroundings and should pass as they get to know more of the residents and the routines. However, if they continue to choose spending time in their own room it could signify feelings of alienation or unease in their home.

It is also important to be aware that losing the motivation to socialise and engage in activity is a symptom of depression, but loneliness can make depression worse, causing your loved one to spiral further.

Most nursing homes will run a variety of activities for residents throughout the week. You should encourage your loved one to participate in these activities; getting them involved in what is going on in the nursing home will help them get to know the others better and hopefully feel less alienated.

At our nursing home in Worthing, we have an in house events coordinator, who prepares plenty of activities for our residents, making sure there is something for everyone. Our staff will always encourage residents to take part in what is going on, and are always happy to accompany them to the events if needed.

If you believe your loved one has truly tried engaging with the other residents and activities but has started isolating themselves again, it might be worth having a conversation with them about why they aren’t participating and even broach the subject of changing homes.

It could also be the case that the home they’re in offered false promises and actually not as much is going on as was expected.

Losing confidence

Moving into a nursing home, such as our nursing home in Worthing, can be a massive change for your loved one. All of a sudden they can find themselves without the responsibilities they are used to, such as running a home, and can start to feel a lack of purpose.

This coupled with adjusting to the dynamics within the care home can lead to a plummeting confidence level; those who are shy might want to merge into the background and will speak quieter or dress in duller colours, while those who are more outgoing might find not being centre of attention hard and so you might notice that they become more subdued and less social.

It isn’t unusual to see a loved ones confidence level drop when they first move into their nursing home, but usually they will find a new confidence once they have settled down. If you are finding that your loved one is still not finding their feet in their new nursing home, speak to the staff and figure out if there is something that you might be able to do to help. Remember, sometimes the nursing home just isn’t the right fit, and if they don’t gain confidence then moving them is always an option.

Neglecting themselves

Not taking care of themselves is an alarm bell that they are unhappy. This could come in the form of them not taking pride in their appearance, refusing to wash or even not caring about their nutritional needs. If you notice this is the case for your loved one you should first speak to the nursing home manager. The staff at the nursing home will always try and help your loved one feel happy and comfortable, so there might be something they can do to help get your loved one their mojo back. However, there is only so much the staff can do as residents still have free will.

If the staff are unable to help, this might be a good point to discuss moving to a new nursing home.

Country Lodge Nursing home in West Sussex runs pampering sessions for our residents regularly, so they can enjoy hairdressing, manicures, hand massages and podiatry to make sure they are looking their very best.

Our chefs also work with our residents to create menus that include all of our residents’ favourite meals made from locally sourced ingredients. We hope that this will bring a little bit of their old home into their new home and encourage them to eat well.

Fixating on the past

It is natural to reminisce and remember the good times. But if you notice that your loved one is talking at length about specific times in their lives it could be a sign of unhappiness. It is not uncommon for people who are trying to escape back to their happy memories to try and replicate them through wearing clothes of that era or listening to music of the time.

They may not fixate on a past memory to escape their unhappy situation. You might find that they start to obsess over a book, or TV programme. But often replicating these scenarios are just as unachievable as travelling back in time.

If your loved one is fleeing their situation through fixating on something, then they need help to see the good in the present. This help might be something that their current nursing home can provide, and you can help by reminding them why they moved into the home and the benefits they get from being there. Once again, if things don’t change after some time has passed, it might be that the nursing home they are in isn’t right for them, so it can be worth considering a move.

Looking to move a loved one?

At Country Lodge Nursing Home, we understand that making the decision to move a loved one isn’t easy, and needs careful consideration and research. We are happy to provide any support you may need.

Get in touch with our Registered Manager, Debbie, to find out more about our Worthing nursing home or to arrange a viewing. Just call 01903 830600, or email

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