The Resident’s Perspective: Adjusting to Assisted Living

If your mother or father is moving into an assisted living community in the not too distant future, one way in which you can assist them in this important transition is to help them adjust to their new residence. There are some specific steps that you can encourage your parent to take or that you can take along with your mother or father to aid them in better adjusting to life in an assisted living community.

Select the Best Community With Your Parent

A key step that will aid your parent in adjusting to life in an assisted living community occurs before the move to that new location even occurs. You can place your parent in the best position to better adjust to life in an assisted living community by selecting the most appropriate community for your mother or father in the first instance. 

Accomplishing this key objective involves visiting multiple assisted living communities in the first instance. When you are undertaking these site visits as part of an overall plan of due diligence, there are a number of key factors to bear well in mind. These include:

  • Talk to staff and administrators
  • Visit prospective communities
  • Read reviews
  • Assess activities and amenities
  • Gauge how your loved one will get along with other residents
  • Explore meal selection
  • Other details important to you and your loved one

Make the New Space Look Like Home

Odds are a person who is moving into an assisted living community has spent an extended period of time in his or her current residence. This makes transitioning into an assisted living community particularly challenging because of the significant change that lies ahead. 

Filling an unfamiliar space in an assisted living community room, suite, or apartment with meaningful items is must. Taking this step can quickly make it into an environment that’s both familiar and comfortable. 

New, recently purchased items can also be added to the new space in an assisted living community. While these are not items that a person has long-standing connection with, they are things that he or she selected and purchase, which means that they have some appeal on some level. 

Encourage Participation in Activities and Programming

Nearly all assisted living communities provide opportunities for activities, programs, and events of different types. One vital way to adjust to assisted living is to participate in these activities, events, and programs. Examples of the types of activities offered at assisted living communities include:

  • Group outings
  • Craft clubs
  • Guest speakers & musicians
  • Movie nights
  • Book clubs
  • Housekeeping
  • Happy hours
  • Music
  • Exercise classes
  • Communal dining
  • Holiday celebrations

Lend a Hand Helping to a Parent to Meet Others

Unless a person is highly outgoing, an older person might feel a bit shy about meeting his or her fellow community residents. You can assist your mother or father in getting to know fellow residents by spending a bit of extra time with them in the community. For example, consider eating meals with your parent two or three times during the first week or so in an assisted living center. Being at your parent’s side is likely to give them a bit more confidence in visiting with and getting to know fellow residents. 

Help Your Parent Develop an Appropriate Connection With Key Staff

People typically better adjust to life in an assisted living community if they feel they know and trust key staff members, if they feel comfortable in reaching out to and communicating with these staffers. Your presence during the early times your parent is at an assisted living community can make it easier for your mother or father to get to know key staff members.

Do Not Be Overprotective

At the other end of the spectrum, you do not want to be overly protective of your parent when your mother and father move into an assisted living. The term helicopter parent is applied to parents of children who hover off the youngsters too much. In a similar manner, you don’t want to be a helicopter adult child when it comes to your parent beginning a new segment of his or her life residing in an assisted living community. 

Listen to Your Parent

Finally, an important step to take when it comes to adjusting to life in an assisted living community is to listen to your parents. You certainly should give your parent appropriate advice in a reasonable manner. With that duly noted, you do need to be sure you listen and understand what your parent is conveying to you. By understanding any fears of concerns that your mother or father may have, by understanding positive thoughts your parent may have, you will be in the best possible position to help your parent build a pleasant, meaningful life in his or her new residential environment.