Change is difficult, so it’s natural that seniors can have difficulty transitioning to assisted living. While there are many benefits of assisted living, there’s no getting around the fact that the move involves changes that seniors don’t always like. Seniors will best adjust to residential assisted living with some encouragement and support from family members during the first days and weeks.
So, how does this happen? How do seniors with their families come together and face a very hard change that impacts the entire family? What practical steps and strategies can be employed to make sure seniors experience their golden years in the way they desire and deserve amid change?
Here are some effective tips for easing this transition.
- Stay in touch
The fear of isolation is one of the top reasons why seniors are reluctant to the move. Visit more frequently during early months of a new transition. It is essential that seniors do not feel isolated, rejected or forgotten. Introduce technology such as Skype, Facetime or Zoom.
- Lend an empathetic ear
Moving into assisted living is often accompanied by mixed feelings of abandonment, inadequacy and fear of the unknown. The loss of dignity and independence are also really important concerns. It’s natural for your senior to feel distraught and isolated during their first few months. How do you address those difficult conversations? How do you listen to those painful sentiments? It should always be done with empathy.
Patiently listen to all that they have to share. What matters most is your ear with an understanding heart. Do not be dismissive. Seniors understand that you are busy, but you do not want them to be thrust into a depressive state because of your busyness. Take some time with them, even schedule it, so that they know you have not abandoned them.
- Don’t be over-protective
Maintaining senior independence is critical as it promotes a sense of purpose and achievement. This boosts their self-worth and emotional well-being. Residential assisted living homes promote this type of environment coupled with customization of care services. They aim to ensure independence and privacy for seniors in group settings. Therefore, don’t become so protective that it prohibits residents from integrating into their new home. Also, you don’t want staff to be petrified every time you arrive or call – remember, they are in assisted living for a reason. Seniors adjust much better once they learn that caregivers and staff can be trusted. This happens quickly if they make friends. Once friends are made, adjusting becomes much easier to foster resident-to-resident relationships.
- Add a personal touch to the new living space
One sure-shot way of helping residents adjust to a new living environment is by placing familiar items and keepsakes in their private living space. Bring their cherished items to their new home such as, the family Bible, books, magazines, music collection or photo albums.
- Connect with the staff
The staff in residential assisted living homes become de facto sons and daughters to the residents. The difference is, they are fully trained and equipped to address their care needs as well. Staff become very close to their residents, and you will find a beautiful relation- ship will blossom between them. Therefore, it’s important for the staff to maintain open communication with family members. Caregivers will see their vulnerabilities and strengths more so than family and friends.
In closing, Mom and Dad are usually the bedrock of support for their children starting at birth. They witness all the transitions and even usher their children through them. Residential assisted living allows adult children to do the same for their parents. The first couple of weeks at any assisted living home can be the most difficult, but this information can make the process flow smoothly.