Change is hard, even when it is change for the better. It’s helpful to keep that in mind as you help an elderly loved one transition to assisted living. Even residents who look forward to the worry-free conveniences of assisted living may go through a period of so-called adjustment disorder.
At Village Green Retirement Campus our experience is that with time and patience, even reluctant residents will come to enjoy living in a senior retirement community. But, even with all of the advantages of assisted living—and we know there are many—we also know there can be some challenges as well.
An article at AssistedLiving.com, helps put the move into perspective. Although it’s easy to point out the benefits of assisted living, the new resident may be feeling a variety of emotions:
- Sadness at the prospect of downsizing from a family home to a one or two-bedroom apartment
- Irritation at being forced into a new routine
- Resentment or anger about living with people who are frail or disabled (even if the new resident is also frail or disabled)
- Fear of being abandoned
- Frustration at perceived loss of independence
While many residents seem to have no trouble at all with the move, we are sensitive to the fact that the move can be difficult for others. Fortunately, even those who do experience challenges early on, become comfortable in their new surroundings before too long. Aspects that seemed annoying in the first week may seem like assets by week three—like downsizing to a more manageable number of possessions, or being able to count on breakfast being served every morning at 8 a.m.
One key to a successful transition is the ongoing support of family members.
Every family’s situation is different, but if it is possible to visit often, especially in the first weeks and months, do it. If you can stay for a meal and meet some of the other residents, that’s great. But even if it’s just a five-minute visit to check in and say hi, that means a lot.
As much as possible, encourage your family member to get involved in the many activities offered each week. If you know your parent has trouble going alone, perhaps you could offer to go along to a movie night, sing-along or some other activity. Once your loved one starts recognizing faces and building up some positive experiences, it will be much easier to try new activities independently.
If you can’t visit, and even if you can, call often. Make sure your loved one has a working phone and an address book or notepad with important numbers so that he or she can keep in touch with friends and family.
At Village Green Retirement Campus, we work with our families to make the transition to assisted living as smooth as possible. If you have any questions please give us a call.