There are many misconceptions and myths around assisted living communities. Fears over loss of independence or drastic lifestyle changes are some of the main concerns. And, while starting a new chapter in life can be challenging and come with an adjustment period, many seniors find the transition to assisted living can open up a new world of opportunities once they get settled.
How to Prepare for a Smooth Transition to Assisted Living
Some of the perks of moving to an assisted living residence include the opportunity to make new friends and join a supportive community, pursue long-held interests or take up new hobbies and activities, and have access to some help with the activities of daily living.
There are many steps you can take to support older adults in their transition. Here are a few that can help to ease the anxiety and stress around the move, and aid seniors in adjusting to their new home and lifestyle.
Get Acquainted with the Staff and Residence Before the Move
A great deal of thought, research, and planning is typically involved in looking for the best assisted living community for your family member. But talking about moving and actually moving can be a very different experience.
Once the decision has been made, taking time to become familiar with the community and meet with staff members and fellow residents can help ease some of the fear and apprehension they may feel about moving.
Take a pre-move tour, where they can ask questions and, make plans for their new apartment and learn about the social and recreational activities they may want to try.
Mix Elements of the Previous Home with the New One
Depending on the size of their previous home and belongings, chances are downsizing will be necessary. While they will not be able to take everything to their new home, key items can instantly make the new residence feel more like home.
Decorative pillows, quilts, pictures, books, and pieces of art that are easy to relocate can make a senior feel comfortable and in their new surroundings.
Once you've settled on what to take, shopping for a few new items like towels or decorative pieces in a new style can also help to create a feeling of excitement for the new space.
Plan a Flexible Schedule for the First Few Weeks
Even if the person moving is excited and looking forward to it, the first few days, weeks and even months for many people can still be overwhelming. Once the excitement and bustle around the move wear off and they are settled, some seniors become depressed or lonely and spend most of their time in their apartment.
Planning activities and strategies for staying social and engaged in their new community ahead of time can prevent them from feeling lost once they arrive.
If the person is on the shy or introverted side or has difficulty adjusting, speak to a staff member to help get them the support they need. Some gentle encouragement to sign up for a class or a simple introduction to other residents from a trusted staff member can make all the difference in the early days.
Design a Coping Strategy for the Adjustment Period Ahead of the Move
Do you know how often you will visit or call? Will previous activities like family dinners and holidays have to shift to accommodate a senior's new lifestyle and transition to assisted living?
It may not seem like a priority to think about visits or something as seemingly insignificant as when to call them on the phone, but it can make a big difference, especially during the adjustment period.
You want to stay connected and available, but, seniors also need time and space to engage with their new surroundings and assert their independence.
Of course, they will still want to hear from you, but if they are waiting for your call or visit during a social activity or group event with their new neighbors and friends, it can hinder their ability to acclimate and enjoy their new surroundings.
Be flexible and try to work around their new schedule, keeping in mind it is likely to change and shift as they settle in and build new routines.
Can't Decide What Belongings to Keep? Put Them in Storage
Minimalism may be all the rage lately, but letting go of a lifetime of possessions can be traumatic for anyone, especially seniors. If the process of letting go is causing too much stress, anxiety, or resentment, consider renting a temporary storage unit to keep the things they just can't bear to part with, but can't take with them to their new residence.
As time goes by and they get used to the new living space, you can revisit the idea of getting rid of the items they no longer need.
Senior living communities offer a supportive, safety-minded and rewarding environment for seniors and their families. For more information on the residences and resources available at SALMON Health and Retirement, contact us by calling 800-446-8060 to learn more today.