For many seniors, adapting to an assisted living facility can take time, as it’s often a move that feels out of their control and perhaps not their preference.
That’s why, the more they feel supported and encouraged, the more successfully they can adjust. Some initial discomfort is normal, but, in the right home and with the right support, they stand the best chance of settling in and feeling comfortable and happy sooner.
Here are some ways to support and encourage your loved one in assisted living.
Pick an assisted living home that best fits your loved one
If your loved one finds themselves stuck in a facility that just isn’t a good fit personally, it will be an uphill battle for all of you. When a home is’t the right match, your loved one’s happiness may suffer considerably and they may never come to feel at ease whilst there.
So, if you are about to embark on transitioning your loved one to an assisted living home, do your research. Consider amenities that are particularly important for their happiness. Read the reviews and visit the home together. It can help greatly if they can get a first-hand feel for the place before making the final decision.
With nearly 100,000 wrongful deaths occurring each year relating to medical errors and malpractice, it’s also imperative that you do your due diligence and choose a facility with a stellar reputation for excellent standards of care.
Make their room their own
They’ll never feel truly at home if their room feels generic, so it really helps to take the time to really make their room their own. Choose drapes and sheets in colors they find comforting, add art and pictures to the walls and display any other meaningful trinkets, ornaments and family photos. Filling a generic space with homely and meaningful items can quickly transform it into an inviting space that feels comforting. It can be the little touches that make all the difference.
Ensure they can access activities they love
Their hobbies and social life should not stop just because they have moved. Support and encourage them to continue with their lives as normally as possible. Organize transportation to get them to church, bridge or whatever they have previously enjoyed doing. There are also plenty of courses tailored towards the seniors’ golden years.
If they didn’t previously involve themselves in social activities, encourage them to start! Maintaining a social circle and having a reason to occasionally leave the assisted living home will be good for their mental health and general well-being and help them to feel happier and more connected.
Visit them often
Please don’t move them in and then disappear. It can be hard to juggle family and work life as well as support a loved one in assisted living, but do what you can. If they feel like they have been moved and forgotten about, it will be very hard for them to adjust and feel happy and loved. As best as possible, keep family visits to the same amount as before the move, more if possible. The more it feels like little has changed, the easier it is for them to consider it their new home and feel at ease.
Support them in maintaining some independence
If it is still a safe option for them to drive, then ensuring that they have access to a car can go a long way towards them maintaining some healthy independence. Otherwise, it’s important to find other solutions to support their sense of freedom and help them to get around and continue doing the things they enjoy.
Relinquishing their independence can be the hardest aspect when it comes to adjusting to assisted living. Do whatever you can to facilitate an ongoing sense of autonomy wherever possible.
Encourage them to develop a sense of community within the home, too
Whilst it’s important for them to maintain a sense of independence, it’s also essential that they also develop a strong sense of connection and belonging in their new home. Assisted living facilities often host fun activities – movies, trips, classes, crafts etc. – to keep their residents feeling inspired and being social. There could be some great friendships awaiting them, so long as they get involved and don’t self-isolate.
It can take some time, patience and perseverance to support a loved one in truly adapting to assisted living. But, so long as they are in the right home for them, and are supported and encouraged to make it theirs, maintain some independence and embrace all that their new life has to offer, it’s usually only a matter of time. It is a great relief and comfort to know that your loved one feels happy and secure in their new home, and going that extra mile to ensure that they do is well worth the effort.