Helping Seniors Transition To Assisted Living
Deciding whether it’s time to move an elderly loved one to a private assisted living community is hard enough. When it comes to helping your senior loved ones feel at home in a new place is another challenge altogether. The transition will have both a physical and emotional impact on them, as any move does to anyone.
However, seniors have particular needs and vulnerabilities, so moving to a new place is worth more consideration that moving somewhere for a new job. Realizing that the move is not toward new opportunities, but because your loved one is no longer able to care for him or herself is a weighty challenge on its own. Here are some ways you can make the transition as smooth as possible.
Talk through the feelings and uncertainties.
Regardless of age, moving to a new home with a new environment and new people is a huge change. The difficulty only increases with age because of emotional attachments not only to a lifelong home and sentimental possessions, but also to the former sense of independence.
Adding to the challenge is the difficulty of making new friends that comes with age. When moving to a private assisted living community, your loved one may experience social anxiety making them feel even more lonely than living alone. It will be up to you reassure them that you will visit, help them make friends, and be there as they adapt to the new place.
The uncertainty does not just affect your senior loved one, but likely occupies your mind as well. Discuss it with your friends and family, especially if they have dealt with a similar situation. At this point, you may have been giving your loved one all the care and attention they need but feel sceptical that strangers will do it as well as you.
Private assisted living is a competitive industry. This drives very high standards of care and ensures you and your loved one have plenty of options to consider. It can help you both to rest assured with the quality of care by visiting and discussing the advantages of each community with managers and staff.
Know the facility before the move.
Ensuring that your loved one will adapt to the community depends on their attitude before the move. Well in advance of any decision, take a detailed tour of the facility with your senior loved one. Bring family for moral support and to be sure everyone is on the same page. It will ease your loved one’s anxiety as well as your own to make them an integral part of the decision process.
Such a big change will need constant encouragement in the form of frequent visits, meals together, and the occasional outing. With the presence of the people they hold most dear, seniors benefit enormously in adapting to a new home. Sometimes, all they need is someone to listen and a hug.
Validate feelings and concerns.
Sometimes, seniors are excited about the experiences they will have in a new community; but more often than not, there are numerous hidden concerns. It is your duty to ensure your loved one feels comfortable sharing their feelings about the move, the location, and what it all means.
They are not looking for lip service; they really want to know that you hear them, understand what they are going through, and won’t dismiss it with empty assurances. You are there for them; their feelings matter. Make sure they know it.
Be part of the transition.
Each individual has a distinct way of coping. Find out whatever it is your loved on requires to help them achieve a smooth transition into assisted living. If they want to play games with you or the grandkids, listen to you about your day at work, or even just watch TV with you by their side; your loved one should know they are not alone in this change.