When your senior loved one is ready to make the transition into an assisted living community, there are things you can do to help make the adjustment period a little bit easier for them. It’s important to remember that many older adults are resistant to living in a senior community because they fear it means losing their independence and their ties to family and friends. However, with your support, they’ll soon get used to – and, more importantly, enjoy their new normal. Here’s how you can help:
Add Sentimental Items to Your Loved One’s New Space
Help your loved one add a personal touch to their new room with some special sentimental items. You can bring things from their previous house to their new home, perhaps several pieces of furniture they especially love, and don’t forget the framed family photos. Maybe they have a token blanket or quilt that you can bring, along with things like favorite books and other trinkets.
This is a great time to have some new family photos taken and framed for your loved one’s new home, and some people use a large bulletin board to create a photo wall full of happy memories.
Visit Your Senior Parent Often, Especially in the Beginning
Naturally, your loved one will miss seeing you and their other family members, especially if you lived close to one another before they relocated to their assisted living community. We recommend you visit often, especially when they first move in, to help keep them in positive spirits and so you can get an idea of what their new life is really like.
Many independent lifestyle communities allow family members to participate in activities like game nights and painting classes, or you may want to take your loved one out for a walk to get some fresh air and enjoy the cool spring weather. Either way, visit as often as you can while your loved one is adjusting to this major change, and let them know that you’ll be around to enjoy more quality time together.
Keep Regular Contact with Your Elderly Parent – Make a Schedule
It’s true that we need routines for most things to keep us on track. Think about your morning routine, workout routine, and all the other routines you keep up throughout your life – they give you a sense of reassurance. When your loved one moves into an assisted living community, one of the first things we recommend you do is create a phone call schedule so you can keep in regular contact, and so your loved one will know that you’re always just a phone call away.
You might want to start your own tradition of having a morning cup of coffee together on Saturday mornings while talking on the phone and getting caught up with everything they’ve done over the past week. Then pass the phone around to other family members who are in the house, so they can have their turn to speak with your loved one. Phone calls help families stay connected, giving both parties something to look forward to.
Give Your Loved One Time to Adjust to Community Living
Change can be difficult, no matter how old you are and no matter how well-adapted you think you might be. Even if the assisted living community is nearby, your loved one will likely feel like their entire life has been uprooted and they’re now in unfamiliar territory. Be patient and empathetic, and be there for them in person and via telephone or video chat as they adjust to this new phase of their life.
This blog was originally published at https://umcommunities.org/umc-corp/blog/assisted-living/