Easing The Transition To A Senior Living Community
Even in the best circumstances, moving to a senior community can be emotional. Parents are mourning the loss of their homes and some of their independence. They might be afraid of navigating a new living situation or meeting new people. Children feel conflicted, too, even when they know the move is better for their parents.
All these feelings can lead to a tense few months as your parent settles in and gets comfortable in their new home. Here are some tips to make the transition easier:
Be positive in language and tone. Be careful to use the right words when discussing your parents' new living situation. Focus on what they've gained while acknowledging what they've left behind.
Recognize what's going on with them. Even if it isn't said, people feel like moving to a senior community means their last years are here. The fact is, moving to a senior community very often extends lives and improves seniors' engagement with the world. But parents still need time to process this move.
Be patient. As much as you may wish your parent would adjust more quickly, it may take some time. Most new community members say it takes a few months to settle into their new homes.
Call upon your circle of family and friends. Have people stop in and spend some time with your parent in their new place. Ask them to reinforce all the positive aspects of your parent's new community and share in some activities or meals.
Accept that timelines vary. No two people are alike when adjusting to a new living situation. Let your parent ease into their new routine at their own pace. Rushing things might cause Mom or Dad to become more resistant.
Set up the space to feel like home. Although some parents are eager for new things and a fresh start in their new homes, most are not. Arrange the furniture like it used to be at home and hang the same pictures. Even go so far as making sure everything they like on their side table at home is right there in its usual spot. Keep it familiar. Too many new things may reinforce the idea that everything is new.
Get acquainted. Meet the neighbors and get to know the staff. Invite them to stop by when they can and have treats or tea on hand so you can welcome them for a chat together.
Visit regularly during the first weeks but don't be there too often. Visiting too often can prevent your parent from developing relationships on their own. Trust your instincts on this one.
Attend community activities together. Doing so will give you and your parent something to discuss when you check-in and give you an idea of your parent's activities during the day.
Dine with other people and learn about them together. Ask about those table mates during your phone calls to your parent.
Stay up-to-date with outside activities. Seeing familiar clubs, groups and friends will help your parent feel more anchored during the transition. Help them keep the rest of their lives as unchanged as possible. If you and your father like to have breakfast at the diner, don't stop now. If Mom always went to the same beauty salon on Wednesdays, keep that appointment if you can.
Melrose Meadows understands how important it is to get your parent settled and feeling comfortable in the community. Their Welcome Team is designed to help your parents get acquainted with other residents, introduce them at dinner, connect them with folks who have similar interests or backgrounds, and generally help ease the transition. In Assisted Living, our staff members check in with your parents frequently. They are happy to give them another orientation tour of the building at any time. It won’t take long before Melrose Meadows feels like home.