When your loved one makes the decision to move to an assisted living facility, it can be a time of great uncertainty and adjustment. While some people make the decision because they don’t want the burden of maintaining their homes alone any longer, others make the decision because they have become physically limited and require some assistance. Somewhere along the line, assisted living facilities developed a reputation of being more like extended stay hospitals, and families have treated loved ones as though they were sick. Assisted living facilities are meant for those who are relatively independent but need help with a few things. Regardless of why your loved one has made the decision to move into an assisted living center, there are things you can do to help them be more comfortable and make the transition more smooth.
Take the Tour
Before making a decision on where to move, encourage your loved one to shop around. You can help by doing research online with them; read reviews, take the online photo tours. Once you have narrowed it down to a few top choices, schedule tours and go with your loved one. During the tour, ask questions, and point out the positives. If you have concerns, discuss them; maybe they didn’t notice.
Make Their Room Home
Assisted living communities are great at offering activities for residents and keeping nice common areas. The facility maintains the dining hall, any recreation areas and activity rooms, as well as the lawn or courtyard. However, the individual living quarters are left up to the residents. Help your loved one make their room home. Bring furniture from their house to make it feel familiar. Make sure to bring plenty of pictures and all of their favorite things. Even if the facility provides all the dishes they need, it is okay to bring along your mother’s favorite coffee mug or grandpa’s lucky beer mug for game days. If the facility can supply toiletry items, be sure to ask your loved one if that is okay or if they prefer to continue to purchase the items they use outside the facility.
Decorate for the Holidays
Make sure your loved one has decorations for the holidays! It is best to bring the decorations they used at their home, but providing new ones is okay too. Assisted living communities are great about decorating the facility and planning holiday activities, but you can help your loved one by making sure their room is decorated like it would be if they still lived at home, after all this is home now. If there is no upcoming holiday or your loved one doesn’t celebrate a particular holiday, flowers or plants, and drawings or cards can help their room feel homey and decorated with love.
Visits and Outings
Assisted living residents are not inpatients, and they are not bound to the facility. The facility does keep track of residents for safety, but they are not on house arrest! Taking your loved one on regular outings is a great way to make them feel more comfortable with living there. A weekly coffee date or grocery shopping trip is often enough to help residents spend time with family and dissipate the feeling of being “abandoned to an old folk’s home.” If you have family that lives nearby, a great idea is to rotate visits instead of all visiting at once. This helps make it feel like they are being visited more and forgotten less. Check the facility’s policy to see if bringing pets is allowed, and if they want you to sign your loved one in and out if they leave the campus.
Every once in awhile, make an effort to visit during one of the facility’s group events to meet the other residents that your loved one has befriended. If you have children or know people in groups, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or youth groups, have your loved ones’ facility added to their list of places to visit. Often times, these groups will adopt grandparents or perform for them, which is a treat for the residents. Activities directors are always looking for event ideas; if you have one, they would be excited to hear about!
When your loved one makes the decision to move into an assisted living facility, there are many things you can do to help them feel better about the decision and keep them comfortable over time. We hope these ideas will help.