If your elderly parent will soon be moving into assisted living, they are far from alone. Around one million Americans currently live in an assisted living facility, and that number is only expected to grow along with the aging population. Assisted living is a convenient and practical option for many families, allowing seniors to live in a comfortable home with on-site medical care, social and recreation opportunities, and day-to-day assistance. Here are five tips for helping your parent adapt to assisted living:
Choose Their Assisted Living Facility Carefully
Choosing the right facility will make perhaps the most dramatic difference in how easily your parent adjusts to their new environment. It's important to talk to your parent about the amenities and features that are most important to them, and to also keep their personality and temperament in mind.
For example, perhaps your parent is very sociable and will be happiest in an assisted living center with lots of group activities and events, or maybe it's important to them that they have their own kitchen because they love to cook. Carefully research assisted living facilities, read reviews from residents and family members, and go on tours of the facilities your parent is most interested in.
Visit sites like http://www.graceseniorcommunity.com as you research assisted living options to better understand what many facilities will offer.
Consider Hiring a Family Therapist
After living independently in their own home for many years, the transition to assisted living can come as an emotional shock. If your parent has difficulty with big life changes and isn't especially resilient, seeking the help of a family therapist can be very helpful. A therapist can help your parent see the transition to assisted living in a more positive way, and help them find ways to maintain their independence.
A family therapist can also ensure you and your parent are on the same page and communicate effectively to avoid any misunderstandings or resentment concerning assisted living.
Help Them Personalize Their Space
While they no longer have an entire home to themselves, your parent will have a room, suite, or even an entire apartment when they move into assisted living. Offer to help them decorate and personalize their space to make it feel more like home and prevent it from feeling too generic or bland. You can help your parent choose framed photos, artwork, furnishings, and personal items from home to pack when they move. If you have the budget, you may also want to take them shopping for a few new home items to make the move more appealing.
Encourage Them to Continue Their Hobbies
Your parent should know they can and should continue their favorite hobbies and interests even after they move into assisted living. If your parent is no longer driving, offer to take them to their favorite spots or appointments, or arrange for a shuttle ride from the assisted living facility. They can also pick up new hobbies, since most assisted living facilities offer fun activities, ranging from fitness classes to foreign languages.
Plan to Visit Often
One common fear among the elderly is that their loved ones will abandon them or forget about them once they live in assisted living. Reassure your parent from the beginning that you will visit consistently and often, and actively plan your schedule so that you can do so. In between visits, set calendar alerts to remind you to call or send emails or letters. Encourage your siblings, other family members, or your parents' friends to visit them regularly as well.
While the transition from living in their own home to living in an assisted living facility can take some getting used to, with your help and preparation you parent will be able to make the most of their new home and have a positive experience.