Helping a senior adjust to assisted living can be tricky, but it is definitely doable. It’s a much “easier” transition if from day one family members have accepted the decision to move and stay involved in some meaningful way. For many older adults, this next chapter of life may be something they are looking forward to and they may see it as a chance to meet new people and explore new things.
For others, leaving their home and making a move to a senior living community can be very difficult. In this case, the process can be extremely stressful for many caregivers. Regardless of your loved one’s attitude about making a move, everyone needs time to adjust to new surroundings and new routines.
Getting through the first few months of this transition is the most challenging time—it’s also the time when ongoing communication from family and friends is most cherished by loved ones. These tips will help you show your support.
Tips for Helping Your Loved One Adjust:
- Make it easy to restart a hobby or continue an old routine. If your father starts his day every morning with a newspaper in one hand and a cup of hot coffee in the other, don’t let him be without them. Make arrangements for daily delivery of the newspaper, have it forwarded to his new address and ensure he has a steady supply of his most comforting beverage.
- Keep the lines of communication flowing. First, ensure your mom or dad has their own telephone and address book on hand. Then, be sure to call them and encourage friends or family members to do the same. But don’t just tell yourself you will; insert this activity as a new part of your schedule and don’t allow yourself to get side-tracked. If calling every day is a bit much, have your mom or dad expect your call at set days and times of the week.
- Send flowers or special deliveries every so often. For mom or dad, receiving a special delivery from you every now and again shows your love and support and reminds them that you are thinking about them. A flowery bouquet, a new family album, or the new book edition from your mom’s favorite author is just one of the meaningful ways of saying, “Hey, I’m still here for you.”
- Visit regularly. Nothing says you care more than just being there with your parents, lounging outdoors and spending time together. Go alone sometimes or bring the entire family. Other times take along a friend or former neighbor for a chat; just aim to keep these bonds strong. Be sure to take advantage of the many activities and events that are offered in the community and participate with your loved one. Enjoy afternoon entertainment or an exercise class together, stop by and have lunch with your loved one and his/her friends, or volunteer to lead an art class or other fun activity that both you and your loved one enjoy.
- Maintain ties to familiar surroundings. If dad wants to drive by his old house, have his haircut at his favorite barber shop, or enjoy breakfast at the local diner, try to oblige him whenever possible. Opportunities for reminiscing can not only strengthen your relationship but foster a sense of independence (which may feel as if it is slipping away) and remind him how meaningful life really is. Perhaps one morning, you can even offer to take dad and a few friends out for breakfast at the diner and he can show off his favorite local spots.
- Getting through the first few months is the most difficult period of adjustment; it’s also the time when ongoing communication is most cherished by the new resident.
- Make it easy for your loved one to restart a hobby or continue an old routine.
Ensure your mom or dad has their own phone and keep the lines of communication flowing.
- Send flowers or special deliveries every so often as a reminder of your love and support.
Visit regularly. Nothing says you care more than just being there with your parent.
- Help maintain your loved one’s ties to familiar surroundings.