Moving to an Assisted Living Community: What to Expect
The transition to assisted living can be a confusing and emotional time for seniors, their family, and friends. From moving away from friends and neighbors to letting go of belongings that often have a lifetime of memories and sentimental value, the transition can be a difficult one for older adults to accept at first.
Change can be a stressful experience for many people, especially for older adults. But moving to an assisted living community also has many benefits for them. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can help to find the best community and level of support and to make the transition smoother and more successful for the entire family.
7 Things to Know About Assisted Living
Everyone handles change differently. Some seniors may be excited for the next chapter and look forward to making new friends and joining an active community that will meet their social and health care needs. Others may be a little more reluctant or even resistant to the changes.
There is no right or wrong way to approach the situation. While there are steps that can be taken to ease the transition for new assisted living residents and their families, the most important thing is to be patient and compassionate and allow everyone to adjust according to their own needs and timeline.
There Will Be an Adjustment Period for Everyone
Even if the individual is happy about the move, getting used to a new home and new neighbors can take some time. They will miss their old home and friends, and some may be slow to warm up to their new environment. This is normal and temporary until everyone is comfortable with the new setup and routine. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself or them to adjust and embrace their new life right away. Allow for the transition process to flow at a pace best for them. After the initial shock and sense of nostalgia wear off, most seniors become very active and engaged in their new home.
Care Needs Are Likely to Evolve Over Time
Older adults’ necessary level of care may change and fluctuate over time, which is normal. This may mean a need for memory care.
Previous Patterns and Routines Will Have to Be Adjusted
The transition to assisted living is most profound for the resident, but it also affects the whole family. Factors like distance, visiting hours and a new schedule will most likely affect your old routines. Maybe you had weekly family dinners that will have to be rescheduled or are facing a longer commute or less frequent visits due to distance. Working together to establish new habits and routines can help ease the strain and sense of loss.
There Will be a Lot of New Names to Learn
One of the many benefits of assisted living communities is the built-in community and social fabric of other residents and staff members. It can be exciting but also overwhelming at first, especially for seniors who may be a little more introverted or used to living alone. It is important to make an effort to be social and active, but they shouldn’t feel bad if they don’t figure everything out right away. Mealtime is a great way to connect with neighbors and learn about the community.
Be Prepared to Need and Ask for Support
Chances are you spent a great deal of time researching and preparing for the move to assisted living, and you have a good idea of what to expect. But every transition and new phase in life comes with unexpected challenges and issues, and moving to assisted living is no exception. Take advantage of the resources available for residents and family members: ask questions and ask for support as needed.
New Residents Will Need a Little Space
Some family members understandably experience feelings of guilt or anxiety when someone close to them transitions to assisted living. If you live close enough to their new home to visit regularly, you may be tempted to spend as much time with them as possible in the beginning. While it is important to maintain contact and keep them engaged with family and friends outside of their new community, it is also essential to give them space and freedom to make new friends and establish their independence in their new environment. When you do visit, make an effort to build relationships with staff and neighbors, and pick up a calendar of events to make it handy to join in.
The Transition and Adjustment Phase Won’t Last Forever
If the transition is difficult or does not go as smoothly as you had hoped at first, try not to lose faith. Take advantage of the resources and support available and be patient with the process as they become comfortable in their new home.
Assisted living residences can be the ideal solution to a senior’s health and independence needs. For more information about our assisted living resources at Whitney Place Assisted Living Residences, contact us by calling800-372-3800.