One of the best ways to help a loved one transition to assisted living may be by reflecting back on your own memories. What was it like to be ill or immobilized by an injury? What was it like to leave your kids when you dropped them off at kindergarten on the first day? How did you feel moving away from friends or family?
Your answers may help increase empathy for the transition that your Mom or Dad is about to make. Keeping your experiences in mind and following these suggestions can make the transition go a little more smoothly.
Supporting a Senior’s Transition to Assisted Living
Tour the senior living community
Visiting the new community may sound obvious, but it is vital to have sufficient opportunities to see what the community is really like, experience how the caregivers interact with residents and develop familiarity with the place. During the visits, encourage Mom or Dad to ask questions, voice concerns to you, and make some connections with staff and residents.
Once you’ve decided on a community, visit it a few more times with your senior loved one. Participate in activities and events. Stay for lunch or dinner. It can help make the new community feel more like home.
No matter how much we like the new place, moving may create a feeling of loss. Adjustment takes time, and most people feel sad, angry or depressed at various stages after they’ve made a big move. That happens to eight-year-olds as well as eighty-year-olds.
Love and listening, support and faith, humor and reminiscing can go a long way to providing comfort at those times. Exercising kindness and compassion may help to reduce the fear.
Consider reasoning and logic
Remember why the decision to move was made. Write it down and post it for yourself and your loved one. Refer to it when you need to remind yourself why you are doing this.
It might feel like the wrong decision when the emotions of moving day take over, but “this too shall pass.” Try to focus your mind on how senior living communities improve the quality of life for older adults.
Create a tiny escape clause
If possible, provide a minor “out”, so the older person doesn’t feel trapped. For example, “Mom, if this doesn’t work, maybe we can make some adjustments. But let’s really give this an A+ honest effort. This is our best choice.”
If possible, help the senior make the move before putting their house up for sale. It can take some of the stress and fear out of the equation if you do.
Get the family involved
Contact family and friends who may be willing visit your loved one at the new community. Consider setting up a schedule for the first few weeks. This helps ensure a steady stream of friendly faces during the toughest days of the transition.
Establish some routines
Activities that build familiarity can be helpful to reduce transition stress. Suggest to your loved one that they start a routine, such as eating in the dining area or taking a walk at the same time each day. That will make it easier for staff and residents to see them and develop relationships.
Make it personal
Who am I now? Who was I? Who do I want to be?
Finding those answers are important to our identity and self-confidence at any stage of life. So as much as possible, help your parent identify their unique qualities and potential contributions, even though they may have limitations now.
Also, provide your Mom or Dad with items that remind them of different stages of their life. Familiar personal possessions and furnishings may be more comforting than buying all new furniture for the move.
Advocate for your loved one
Sometimes it’s little rules or small problems that can seem like a very big deal to a senior who recently relocated. Although the staff may be busy, most people want new residents to feel comfortable and at home in their new surroundings. Don’t be concerned about speaking up and acting as your loved one’s advocate. Resolving those issues can help to make an aging loved one feel safe and secure.
Trust your intuition
Intuition is that gut feeling that tells you something is wrong. Listen to it. Ask questions of yourself and respond in writing to generate deeper answers. Talk about it with others. The problem could be an old fear rearing its head or it could be a something that requires immediate action. Most of our parents tried to heed those feelings when they raised us. Now it’s our turn.
Visit Heritage Senior Communities to Learn More
At Heritage Senior Communities, we welcome you and your loved one to visit us. Our team will help provide support to make the transition comfortable for your mom or dad. Call us and schedule a time!