Change is difficult for anyone, but it can be especially hard for seniors to move to an assisted living community. There are many benefits of assisted living, but there’s no avoiding it in certain cases. Moves involve changes that seniors don’t always like.
Senior adults who are moving from their home into assisted living will typically encounter some degree of adjustment disorder. You can limit the effect the transition to assisted living will have on your loved ones by taking a few extra steps and some care:
The Challenge Of Transitioning to Assisted Living
Folks who are in the middle of transitioning to assisted living may experience:
- Feelings of abandonment
- Frustration around their perceived (or real) loss of independence
- Adjusting to a new routine. For example, elders who prefer to eat a late dinner may struggle adjusting to living in a community where dinner service ends at 7 p.m.
- Resentment about having to live with folks that are worse off than themselves.
- The need to downsize.
This being said, there are plenty of seniors who may not have any trouble at all adjusting to their new assisted living community and are great from day one. Elders can adapt quickly and come to recognize that the aspects of assisted living that initially bothered them are actually helpful.
Residents may find it relieving to downsize- they no longer have to worry about housekeeping and upkeep. Seniors who were resistant to moving may first experience feelings of abandonment and betrayal may find themselves feeling gratitude based on the realization that their family was acting out of love when they made the arrangements for them to move.
Helping Loved Ones Transition To Assisted Living
Your loved ones will adjust the best to their new home with support from their family during their early days at the assisted living community. Seniors who are relocating need reassurance that this is just a new chapter of their lives- it’s not the end of the life they’ve always known.
Here’s a few tips to help your loved one adjust to assisted living:
- Allow loved ones to be independent.Don’t become too protective or feel as if you have to be with your loved one constantly during the transition. This can be counterproductive. Frequent visits during the first days after they move to assisted living does absolutely help reassure your loved ones that you aren’t abandoning them, but hold back from taking it too far. Excessive hovering and handholding can prevent your family member from successfully adapting to their new home.
- Bring Personal Items From Their HomeBringing familiar items to the new assisted living space can help your family member transition successfully. Depending on the living arrangements at the assisted living community, you may even be able to replicate their living arrangements at home. You can even give your parent input about the keepsakes they’d like to bring into their new home.
- Encourage Loved Ones To Participate In ActivitiesSeniors can look down on assisted living and be dismissive of the community and activities available. It’s much more likely that your parent will adjust well if they get involved with the activities offered, opening the door to make friends in the community. Laurel Parc’s assisted living community has a wide variety of activities- not every single one of these will be appealing to everyone, but there will be something here that engages them.
- Encourage Your Parent To Help Out In The CommunityThere are many assisted living communities that allow resident volunteers to take on roles at the community, helping to do things like answer phones, managing the library, or sponsoring a club. When people feel useful and as though they have a purpose, it can improve their outlook while helping them with the transition to their new home.
- Take Your Loved One to Visit The Community As Often As Possible Before They MoveAfter you’ve made the decision as to what senior living community best fits the needs of your loved one, it’s important to take your parent to visit often before they move. Take them to attend meals and events that allow your loved one to learn the layout, become familiar with residents and staff, and get acquainted with the community. This will help them feel like everything is less foreign when your parent makes the transition and moves.
Moving your whole life and transitioning to a completely different routine is stressful and traumatic for anyone. It can be particularly impactful for seniors but if we take the time to lift up our loved ones and support them through the hardest times of their transition, it can be an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience for seniors. Be patient, encourage your loved one to participate, and be there to help validate their emotions and experience.