Once you and your aging parent or parents have decided that moving to an assisted living facility is the best choice for them, it is important to fully understand the changes involved with helping them feel comfortable in their new home. For the transition to be successful, the senior’s family and/or caregiver, their doctor and the assisted living staff should work as a team.
Ask for Guidance and Support
Many assisted living facilities have programs to help new residents adjust. Ask if your chosen facility has a resident liaison. Liaisons can be terrific resources, and will assist with orientation, engagement and answering questions. Another key player in the transition is the life enrichment team or activity coordinator.
Ask if your chosen facility does an interview with your loved one. This can help the facility and its staff get to know his or her preferences. If your loved one agrees to everything or has poor recall, offer to sit in during the interview to ensure that your love one’s voice is heard. Most importantly, follow up. Don’t be afraid to ask if your loved one has begun participating in activities and making friends. Are they adjusting well?
I found that my dad didn’t want to participate in any activities at first. So, I would come in and attend with him. This helped him become engaged with others. I also tried to participate in as many family activities as possible. Most facilities have a monthly calendar. I would ensure that you receive the calendar every month so you can plan accordantly.
Listen to Your Loved One
When my dad made the transition from his long-time home to an assisted living community, he told me that he didn’t have the energy to go to down for meals. He wanted to eat in his room. Even though I knew this was a big change for him, I also knew it was important for him to socialize and get into a routine. Finding that balance between letting him adjust at his own pace and what I thought would be best for him was challenging. I spoke with the activities coordinator and the director of nursing to ensure that my dad was getting all the services available to him. I wanted to be sure that the staff was encouraging and supporting his emotional and spiritual needs. In hindsight, I realize what I think is best for my dad may not be what he wants. Ask questions, but remember that this is his or her life.
As a family member, I took a sigh of relief when I got my father settled into an assisted living facility. I knew he was finally safe. I knew his health needs would be monitored. We both learned a lot throughout the journey. As a family member, I would remind you to put yourself in your loved one’s shoes. Realize that the journey has just begun, and that a team of support and encouragement is key to a successful transition. FBN
Leah Veschio, RN, MSN, is the director of community outreach at The Peaks Senior Living Community, 928-774-7106, ext. 2022.