Using psychology to reduce roommate conflicts: A handy guide (McKnight’s LTC News)

Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:


Using psychology to reduce roommate conflicts: A handy guide

“My roommate is driving me crazy with his oxygen machine. I haven’t slept in days.”

“Her husband stays in the room all the time, even when she’s in rehab.”

“She always leaves the window open and I’m freezing!”

These are some of the many complaints about roommates I’ve heard from residents over the years. While some roommate difficulties need to be addressed on a situation-by-situation basis, most conflicts revolve around a few basic issues.

Here’s a handy guide to conflicts and potential resolutions to print out and give to staff members involved in making room assignments.

•       Temperature of the room: Have the person who likes it colder or hotter by the window/air conditioner/radiator so they are closest to the source. The temperature in the hallway will moderate the atmosphere around the bed near the door. Give extra blankets to those who like to be warm but have a roommate who likes it cool. Or change rooms so that people who like similar conditions room together.

•       Noisy medical equipment: Someone with such needs might do better living with a hearing impaired roommate or a sound sleeper or being moved to a private room if it’s a temporary condition.

•       Frequently visiting family members: While visiting hours have been expanded in many facilities, it doesn’t mean they need to take place in a resident’s room, especially if it’s disturbing to others. It may be necessary to distinguish between facility visiting hours and in-room visiting hours and to refer families to alternative locations for visits, such as a lounge. Family members can be directed to wait in common areas if their loved one is not in their room.

•       Loud televisions: Setting a time (such as 10 p.m.) to lower the volume on TVs and to turn out lights that aren’t in use will help with sleep hygiene on the floors in general and will reduce conflict between roommates (because it’s “policy” and not personal). Those who want a loud television can use a headset or be moved to a room with a hearing impaired roommate.

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Using psychology to reduce roommate conflicts: A handy guide


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