Change is difficult enough for anyone to go through, but for those at an advanced enough age, change can be an upsetting and frightening concept. While the elderly are usually the ones most opposed to change, it is often this population that is forced to make dramatic living changes the most often. One example of this kind of change is the transition from a home into an assisted living facility. Oftentimes, this change is the first time they have had to leave their place of residence in many decades. The safety and comfort of home is suddenly given up and replaced by an entirely new environment, shared with new people.
Asking a senior to make the move into assisted living is a big task. Adult children are often among the first who have to ask a senior to make this move in the first place. But how can adult children make this transition and easier process to go through for their seniors? One way is to make the new environment enough like home so that your senior will feel welcome living there. Here are some ways you can do that for your senior:
Understand Their Loss
While to you this move may represent an exciting new chapter unfolding in your senior’s life, it is actually a traumatic and difficult event for them. You may see the exciting new foods, new neighbors, and new apartment as a fun change of pace, but they may only see the loss of belongings, familiar surroundings, and sense of normalcy. Even if where they used to live was messy, disorganized, or unsafe, it still held a lot of history and importance for them. You can empathize with them and tell them it’s ok to feel this way about moving, but that ultimately it’s about their health and safety for them to move into an assisted living facility.
Gather Personal Belongings
Facilitate the process by asking what personal belongings they would like to bring along or that they feel especially strongly about. You can even offer store some items in your own home or in a storage locker so that they know these objects are safe. Their space within an assisted living facility will likely be less than their home, so they should only take items that they will want to use on a daily basis, not every sentimental knick knack possible. It can be difficult to have to part with such tangible pieces of history, but knowing that you’ve helped to keep them stored safely and securely is a comforting thought.
Find a Safe Place to Store Sentimental Valuables
There are some things that your senior may simply never be able to part with. Things like family heirlooms and other life treasures are best stored in bank deposit boxes or with trusted family members, but if your senior refuses to let go, you can work on finding a safe or other secure object for holding onto items. Show them how to operate the device and keep things secure. You can also provide them with a storage device for photo albums and collages.
Bring Favorite Furniture
If your senior has a favorite chair or maybe a favorite portrait or dresser, you can talk with the facility management about possibly bringing these items into your senior’s new apartment. Having a favorite chair that they used to watch football in might be a comforting way for them to acclimate and unwind after a long day. If they had a grandfather clock, perhaps you can work out a way of transferring these items to your senior’s new apartment.
Save Their Bed Sheets and Pillows
Think of all the time we spend in bed. Sleeping in an entirely new environment with a different bedspread and pillow set is not always easy and if you haven’t slept anywhere else for many years it can be quite difficult to acclimate. Even if they don’t request that you bring these items, it may still be helpful to store them in case they later realize they want them.
Gather Handmade Items, Books, and Pictures
Books, awards, favorite pictures and more are good items to collect up and store for your senior. They’ll likely want to hold on to at least a few of these things at their residence, but there will be some items that they simply don’t have the room for. If there are too many items to store in your home, you can hold on to some of their stuff at your place so that if they do request anything, you have it on hand.
Help Them Be a Good Host
Part of living in a home is the great sense of pride you experience for being a good host. Help your senior carry that feeling into their new residence by helping them be a great host. You can make sure they’re stocked up on the right snacks and drinks, have comfy chairs, maybe even extra items that can’t be found in the rest of the facility. Anything to make them feel special and important. Even having a full candy basket can give an immense sense of pride and ownership to someone living in an assisted living facility.
Speak With Staff Facility
Everyone warms up to situations differently. Most good facilities will have programs and routines for welcoming new guests, but another way to help your senior get acquainted is to talk with facility staff about their particular personality and quirks. You can brainstorm ways to get your senior involved with other residents or the best ways for staff to bond with them. You can talk about favorite topics of discussion, preferred meal preparation, and more.
Above all, don’t expect your senior to simply accept all these changes without being a little distraught. Your elder will likely grieve their losses and you should be able to empathize with them. However, if they haven't acclimated more after a period of a few weeks then it may be worth talking with their primary care physician about possible depression issues. Give it time time and communicate with staff regularly about them. If you’re looking for more senior living blogs and resources, make sure to read our informative blogs every week. They will provide valuable information and can educate you on topics related to senior living. If your thinking it may be time for your loved one to move into one of the best active retirement communities, give Landmark Senior Living a look.