Even if you're a top-notch caretaker, the day may come when it's time to help your loved one make the move into an assisted living community. Some families plan ahead for the move, while others are taken by surprise when it's mutually decided to transition a family member to assisted living when a fall, injury or doctor recommendation prompt a change. Life changes can leave anyone rattled, but for seniors who are beginning a new chapter in life, it's especially important to help them make the transition as smooth as possible. Here are a few ways you can help your loved one adjust to assisted living:
Make it cozy
In the first days and weeks after moving to an assisted living community, you can help your loved one adjust to their new surroundings by giving them touches of home. Bring your parent or other loved one their favorite blanket, books and photo albums to make them feel more at ease. Some assisted living communities may also allow you to provide small house plants or fish tanks to bring a room to life.
Ask your loved one what they're missing from their former home and make an effort to bring it to them. Talk to community staff members to see what options you and your loved one have for decorating their new home to make it more comfortable. For example, those in apartment-style suites may have more leeway with hanging artwork on the walls.
Visit and call
There's no better way to feel at home than to have your family and friends close by, so visit your loved one frequently and call regularly. There are countless benefits to you spending time with your loved one in an assisted living community – socialization is a great form of mental stimulation, and the love of family and friends can't be replaced. Show your family member that you love them by dropping by to chat, sending cards and letters if you live further away, and speaking on the phone on a regular basis. When your loved one moves into an assisted living community, get all of their contact information together and send it out to friends and family members. You can send out a group email with the community's address, your loved one's phone number and room number so anyone can send holiday cards, call to chat or drop by.
It's always important to stay in touch with loved ones, but pay special attention during the first few weeks and months after your parent or family member moves into an assisted living community. By visiting frequently, you can make sure they're receiving the care they need, and also can make sure they're joining in with the community in activities, games and programs that will help your loved one stay mentally and physically fit.
When adjusting to a new environment, some people respond with a desire to isolate themselves from their unfamiliar surroundings. Help your loved one adjust to their new environment by encouraging them to take part in daily activities such as group fitness classes, games and other communal events. Staff members should already be helping your loved one adjust through interaction, but a gentle nudge from a family member may help your loved one join their community book club or bingo game.
Adapting to a new environment can be overwhelming, so if you see that your loved one is taking a bit of time to adjust, be patient and give it some time. With the right level of encouragement, your loved one may soon be thriving among their peers and living out their golden years in happiness.