6 Self-Care Practices to Make the Most of Visits With Your Parent in Assisted Living
If your parent is now living in an assisted living community, you need to make some adjustments regarding your relationship with your mother or father. At the top of the list is rethinking (at least to some degree) how you visit your parent in his or her residence. It would be best if you considered some changes to make the most out of your visits with your mother or father, who now resides in an assisted living community. This includes what can best be described as five self-care practices that can be vital in helping you to make the most out of your time visiting with your parent in an assisted living community:
- Think positive
- Limit your visits
- Practice mindfulness
- Get some exercise
- Make a self-care plan
- Find Support
If you are like many adult children with parents moving to or recently moved into an assisted living community, you may harbor some less-than-positive thoughts about the whole business. You likely have a variety of less-than-positive opinions about assisted living and the reality that this is where your parent will call home or is already calling home.
The fact is that you can benefit from reconsidering some of your perceptions – likely misperceptions, at least on some level – of assisted living. By making such an adjustment, by thinking more positively about your parent’s circumstances and life more generally in an assisted living community, you will find that your visits with your mother or father become less stressful and more enjoyable – which is as they should be.
You can reframe your thoughts and beliefs about assisted living if you consider that these communities truly can benefit older people. For example, your parent in assisted living has access to an array of amenities that truly are life-enhancing:
- Prepared meals that are both healthy and delicious
- 24-hour professional care team
- Various activities, events, and programs
- Assistance with activities of daily living as needed
- Transportation services
- Medication management
- Socialization and the chance to make new friends
- Safety and Security
Limit Your Visits
When your parent initially moves into an assisted living community, the natural inclination will be to visit your mother or father very often – perhaps daily – and for long periods. While that may seem like a good plan on the surface, it actually is not a wise course to take.
Overdoing when it comes to visiting a parent in assisted living can result in you neglecting your well-being. Neglecting yourself by overdoing on the visiting front can lead to burnout. And that burnout can occur sooner than you might ever imagine.
It’s important to leave time in your schedule for self-care, exercise, social events, leisure time, and the other things in life that bring you the job. Limit your visits to just a few hours or certain days of the week. Try not to feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Not only will it give you some much-needed space for self-care, but it will also help ensure that your loved one sees a rested, healthy version of you when you visit.
You also need to remember that being reasonable regarding the amount of time spent visiting your parent in assisting living benefits your mother or father as well. Your parent needs to have an opportunity to settle into their new home independently of you and to start making new friends.
You likely did not visit your parent every day for hours on end before he or she moved to assisted living. The need for visiting overkill doesn’t exist when your parent is now residing in an assisted living community.
Experts in the realm of long-term senior care believe that it is beneficial for family members to practice what is known as mindful relaxation before visiting a parent or other loved one in an assisted living community. Mindful.org, a resource we direct you to in a moment, has a lovely explanation of what practicing mindfulness is all about:
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. The goal of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes. Mindfulness is available to us in every moment, whether through meditations and body scans or mindful moment practices like taking time to pause and breathe when the phone rings instead of rushing to answer it.
Mindfulness practice will ensure that you are fully present when you arrive at your parent’s assisted living community for a visit. The visit and your mother or father will be your focus for the period you are with your parent.
If the concept of mindfulness is new to you (and you’re not alone if it is), there are several no-cost resources online that are available to you that include:
Get Some Exercise
Regular exercise is fundamental to overall good health. According to the highly regarded Mayo Clinic, exercise also raises the level of what is known as endorphins in your body. In simple terms, endorphins make you feel good. They are capable of lowering the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Through exercise, you have the potential to feel better. This includes feeling physically well and emotionally better about different aspects of your life, including your parent living in an assisted living community. When you feel better physically and emotionally, you set yourself up for more enjoyable visits with your parent living in a senior community.
Make a Self-Care Plan
Your parent has a care plan in assisted living. You can benefit from developing or creating your self-care plan. Create a calendar of events, exercise, leisure activities you enjoy, and so forth.
Make your self-care plan as comprehensive as possible. Make sure it includes regular checkups with your doctor. Making a daily or weekly self-care plan may help you balance caring for yourself and your loved one living in assisted living. It will also enhance the overall quality of visits with your mother or father.
When it comes to your parent moving into assisted living, you may benefit from seeking additional support. Both AARP and the Family Caregiver Alliance provide what can somewhat be called extensive resources for adults with parents who live in an assisted living community or another type of long-term care facility. These resources include directories of information, advice, and even workshops and support groups.