Photo by Claudia van Zyl
Adjusting to an assisted living community may be difficult—for some, harder than others.
If your mom or dad is new to a senior living or memory care facility, you may be concerned about their happiness and ability to thrive there. This point is especially true now, as we battle changes happening in the world due to the coronavirus.
Luckily, there are many ways to combat isolation and ease transitions. There are things you can do for your parent(s), as well as suggestions you can offer them for feeling safe, comfortable, and “at home.” After all, everyone deserves to feel at peace with their space.
Keep reading for five tips on how to help Mom and Dad.
1. Take Time Finding the Right Assisted Living Community—And Involve Them in the Process
The first and most important step is finding the right assisted living facility for your family member. This cannot be done hastily and involves research, visits, and appointments with prospective communities.
You’ll want to understand the living options provided, the staff’s experience, and the number of residents. In addition to the broader scope, you’ll also want to consider the day-to-day. Some questions to answer might be as follows:
- Does the facility provide services such as an entertainment space, visiting room, or multipurpose room?
- Does it offer fun spaces, like a café or barbershop?
- Does the facility allow pets, in case Mom or Dad has one?
- Are there events regularly to encourage socialization and friendship?
- Do they provide stimulating activities in addition to their regular health and wellness services?
Having answers to these questions allows you to gauge the practices of the facility.
If possible, involve your mom or dad in the decision, too. See what factors are important to them and consider their wants and needs.
2. Visit When Possible, and Call (Or Facetime) When Not Possible
Phone calls are a fantastic way to stay in communication with your loved one. They’re perfect for when you’re thinking of them, have other loved ones around that can join the phone call, or can’t visit but still want to communicate.
Texting can sometimes feel disingenuous. It’s harder to convey emotions and may be more difficult for your parent(s) to read. On the other hand, a phone call allows your voice to comfort your loved one and allows them to both speak and listen better.
For some, video conferencing apps like Facetime can be another way of communicating that has the added benefit of seeing facial expressions and environments.
3. Decorate Their Space to Be Reminiscent of Their Previous Home
When your parent feels comfortable in their room, they’ll be more likely to thrive in their communities. As you move your parent in, think of ways to make the space feel “homier,” something they can recognize and find comfort in. A small taste of familiarity can provide a solid foundation for your parent.
Consider the things they enjoy—maybe that’s knitting, watching sports, gardening—and find ways to incorporate that into their room. Maybe that’s by hanging up a tapestry of their favorite football team, setting up some seeds on the windowsill, or making a designated space for them to enjoy their favorite hobby.
These small gestures are something that can have positive benefits in both the short- and long-term.
4. Order Them Their Favorite Groceries
Having food you enjoy is a comfort—especially during changing times. Your mom or dad will love having their favorite meal on-hand as they’re adjusting to their new living space.
There are several ways you can get groceries to your loved one in an assisted living community:
- Ask for their grocery list, get the ingredients, and drop it off yourself
- Order grocery delivery through apps like Shipt or Instacart
- Consider meal delivery services (appropriate for those who can still cook on their own)
- Prepare meals for them and drop them off; have meals that are ready-to-eat or only need to be warmed up before enjoyed
- Order them their favorite restaurant meal to-go and have a visit
Eating good, healthy comfort food is an excellent way to relax and enjoy.
5. Encourage Them to Make Friends and Be a Part of the Community
It’s not always possible to visit your mom or dad on a regular basis.
Perhaps you’ve got a sick child and need to stay home with them or have to go on an out-of-town work trip. It’s comforting to know your parent(s) have friends in the community to rely on in case a visit with you can’t happen.
Encourage them to seek out events and entertainment within the community. Maybe the facility offers movie nights, game nights, or potlucks. Talk to your mom or dad about getting involved, meeting people, and they may even make some new friends!
Friendships can enrich your parent(s)’ lives, prevent loneliness, and provide support and companionship.
With Your Support, Your Mom or Dad Will Thrive
The transition to living in an assisted living community can be made easier for your parent(s) with these ideas.
If you stay present as a family member, advocate, and support system, that can significantly impact their adjustment. As will a personalized space to live in, a warm community full of friendly residents and compassionate staff, and enjoyable events.
With these ideas in mind, consider booking an appointment with us at The Retreat at Alameda. We provide all the necessities of a happy life: wellness, comfort, love. We offer unmatched assistance by staff members that keep each resident’s preferences in mind.
To see our community, click here.