Making a lifestyle change such as moving into an assisted living community can be challenging. It can be emotionally straining for the whole family, as you begin to come to terms with the fact that your loved one needs more help. If the bulk of the decision is resting with you, you may even be grappling with fillings of guilt. And for seniors, it often means leaving a home where they may have raised a family and lived in for decades, which can seem like another loss – one of many they are likely experiencing. It can also leave them feeling as though they are no longer truly independent.
Even when the decision to move to an assisted living community has been made, it’s important to remember there will be a transition time as residents get used to their new home. Ironically, today’s assisted living communities are meant to increase independence by offering services and support for seniors to live life to the fullest. In fact, studies show that seniors who live in a social environment and receive the right level of assistance with daily activities such as housekeeping, medication management, dressing, bathing and more actually feel a boost in their independence and overall quality of life.
But for most residents, realizing this can take some time. Here are five tips to help ease the transition for a loved one who is moving into an assisted living community.
- Keep things positive. Moving to an assisted living community is a major change for both seniors and their loved ones. But it’s important that you remain positive and encourage your loved one to embrace this new chapter in their life. Stay focused on all the benefits moving to assisted living can provide, such as no longer having to worry about cooking or cleaning, easy access to social events and activities, etc. At the same time, though, don’t discount their concerns or reservations about moving. Listen and acknowledge how they feel, and encourage them by letting them know they are in a safe place with the support they need, while still having their autonomy.
- Surround them with familiar things. It’s important to make your loved one’s new space feel like home. So while you may be tempted to buy new things for this new chapter in life, it may actually put them more at ease to be surrounded by things from their old home. Knick-knacks, photos, and even furniture that can fit their new space can make it feel more familiar, more homelike and help ease the transition.
- Help them find activities to try out. Your loved one will have access to a wide range of activities and social engagements that they didn’t have before, especially if they were living alone. Particularly when they first move in, look at the activities calendar for the month and help them find a few things to try out. Look for something that’s tailored to their interests or a hobby they once enjoyed. Don’t see a lot that piques their interest? Talk to the staff at the new community. Activities and events are often tailored to the interests of the residents and many communities are open to adding new programs to their calendar, especially if it means making a new resident feel welcome.
- Visit frequently, especially in the beginning. Many seniors feel like living in an assisted living community means being left behind by their family and friends. That’s why it’s often recommended that families visit as often as they can, especially in the beginning. Doing so can mimic how you or others would come by when they lived at home, making it feel more like it’s truly their space.
- Give it time. The time it takes for your loved one to transition will vary. Just be patient and give them the time they need to adjust. Over time, and as they settle in and make friends, they’ll begin to see the many benefits moving to a community can bring.
Helping Seniors Start Their Next Chapter at Episcopal SeniorLife Communities
Getting older often means needing more assistance with the things seniors once did on their own. But it doesn’t mean having to miss out on life. At Episcopal SeniorLife Communities, our assisted living communities work with residents and their families to ensure they have access to assistance with daily activities so they can continue to live life to the fullest. From housekeeping and cooking, to medication management, transportation, bathing and dressing, our communities are designed to provide the services seniors need so they can live as independently as possible, no matter their age.
If you’ve started the conversation about assisted living with your loved one, contact us today to learn more and schedule a tour.