How to Get Involved in Your Mother’s Assisted Living Community
Life presents us all with a series of changes. Some of our personal life changes are intertwined with someone else’s. If you are the adult child of a parent who recently has moved into an assisted living community, there are many blog posts out there telling new senior living residents how they can integrate themselves into life in their community, but now that your loved one has moved into their new home, how do you, as a wife, husband, son or daughter, get involved yourself?
Fortunately, this isn’t a tricky question to answer. There are plenty of opportunities available to the diligent seeker.
If you’re interested in becoming more involved in your loved one’s senior living experience, your first stop should be the community. The community’s leadership team should have their finger on the community’s pulse, and they can be excellent resources. They should know their community’s specific needs, and they should be able to give you helpful advice on how you can play a greater role in the community. But in case you want some talking points before you meet with the staff, we’ve assembled a few ideas for you to consider.
The first and most basic action you can take is a regular visit. Setting aside dedicated time to swing by the community on a weekly or biweekly basis can have many benefits. You not only get to see your mom or dad regularly, but you can also get to know the staff, the grounds, and their fellow residents. Who knows — you might even start to make some friends yourself.
- Pack a picnic
- Organize a game night
- Recruit the grandkids
- Take a class
- Attend an in-community webinar
- Decorate for the holidays
- Record fun family stories
Does the community have a vegetable garden that could use for good weeding? Do you have a particularly good voice for reading books aloud? Is your church choir willing to put together a show for the residents? Volunteerism can be a great way to get involved in the local community. You can be a one-woman (or one-man) volunteer army if that’s your style, or if you want to be part of a bigger picture, there are several groups you can partner with.
National organizations like Elder Helpers and AmeriCorp specialize in coordinating volunteer activities to benefit older adults and senior companionship. If you prefer your volunteerism to have a local flair, you could partner with regional organizations and faith-based groups in your area. All it takes is a phone book and a few calls.
- Read to visually impaired residents
- Teach a skill like knitting
- Set up a parking lot car wash for residents with cars
- Help create memory boxes
- Offer to organize drawers or closets
- Write letters and postcards
- Provide companionship
Your involvement with your loved one’s community doesn’t have to stop at the front door. Advocacy groups like AARP, the National Council on Aging, and the Alzheimer’s Association perform important work on the macro level to influence research, care, and public policy to benefit older adults. This can benefit your loved one, the residents in their community, and seniors throughout the United States — maybe even worldwide. So what are you waiting for?
- Register with a reputable organization
- Ask for volunteer opportunities
- Help raise funds for research
- Get informed on existing policy
- Study proposed policy
- Reach out to community leaders