Making a transition to an assisted living community and leaving behind the family home can be an emotional process for an older adult. Focusing on ways to help them feel at home in their new community can make the transition less stressful and difficult for everyone. Before making the move to assisted living consider these tips.
One of the key ways to feel at home in assisted living is to choose the right community from the start. When researching communities, involve the loved one so they are part of the decision making and consider everything from location to quality of care and reviews. Once the options are narrowed to a short list, contact each assisted living community to schedule a tour so the senior can get a feel for each and whether it seems like the best choice for them. When touring, be prepared to ask questions like those in our blog, “What to Look for and Questions to Ask When Touring Senior Living Communities,” so the communities can be compared on a level playing field.
One fun aspect of a move to assisted living is the opportunity to decorate the new apartment so it feels like home and reflects the style and personality of the senior. This is also a great time to get other family members involved (especially those with a knack for decorating) and spend time together picking out color schemes, laying out furniture, and purchasing a few special items to make the most of the new home. Not sure where to begin? Check out our blog, “New to an Assisted Living Community? Decorate & Design Your Home to Fit Your Style.”
While it’s easy to get bogged down in all the details of the actual move to assisted living, don’t forget to focus on the senior. Many seniors may feel afraid or sad as the move approaches and these emotions should be addressed with compassion and empathy. Look for signs that a senior is experiencing fears or having second thoughts such as becoming withdrawn, unusual moodiness, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping. Keep in mind they may feel they are giving up privacy and independence and may also fear they will be forgotten. By being cognizant of these feelings, families can reassure their loved one that they will soon feel at home and that everyone cannot wait to visit and enjoy quality time together. For more of what to expect, our blog, “Dispelling the Most Common Fears Seniors Have About Senior Living,” is a great guide.
Making assisted living feel like home includes helping the senior meet new friends and get to know the team members who will be helping them on a regular basis. For many seniors who have become isolated from their peers when living alone, a little help can go a long way toward making them feel at home in assisted living. An easy way to start is to simply smile and say hello to other residents and introduce the senior and yourself. After moving day, joining in on an event or activity can also help and as the senior meets more people and begins to feel at home, they will also begin to consider themselves part of the community and not a newbie. For more ways to help seniors meet others, our blog, “Surefire Ways to Make New Friends in Senior Living,” has some great tips.
When a move to assisted living is on the table, families often make promises so their loved one doesn’t feel they are going to be neglected or forgotten. These promises might include intentions to call and visit, including them in family events, taking them to appointments whenever possible, and so on. When promises are made, they should be honored so the senior can not only feel at home but loved and respected as well.
To make this easier, try setting up a visiting schedule so the senior gets regular visits and can plan ahead for them. Another idea is to create a calendar with family events and appointments and the person who will be handling transportation. In this way, a senior loved one knows they are not being left out and always has something to look forward to.