Moving an aging parent into an assisted living facility isn't always easy. Not only are you grappling with your own feelings about your parents future and their care, you are also working to help them adjust to their new home. For some seniors it can be especially difficult to give up some of their independence, which can lead to anger, sadness, or withdrawn behavior. The following tips can help your parent adjust to their new home so that they can enjoy themselves again.
Tip #1: Maintain Old Hobbies
If your parent had a hobby they particularly enjoyed, such as sewing or crosswords, it's simple to ensure they can continue this routine once they are settled into the assisted living facility. More physical and space consuming hobbies can be more difficult. Your goal is to find a way for them to continue what they enjoy, even if it's not exactly as it was before. For example, a parent that loved working on old cars may enjoy model building, or an avid gardener may be able to take up bonsai or orchid growing. This connection to their old life can help make there new home much more enjoyable and home-like.
Tip #2: Join Them for Social Activities
Most assisted living facilities have activity directors and a full schedule of fun activities. Unfortunately, your parent may feel uncomfortable, especially if it has been awhile since they have had to make new friends. The good news is that there are often activities that are open to both residents and guests. Ask the activity director for a calendar and make plans to accompany your parent to a few activities. This way they will have someone they know to join them, which makes them feel more comfortable. After a few such activities they will likely have begun to develop new friendships on their own.
Tip #3: Schedule Visits
Start a new routine of visiting your parent at a regular time. This can be every Tuesday on the way home from work, or you can dedicate Sunday afternoons for a family visit. Although it is nice to take them out of the facility, perhaps to a restaurant, it can be just enjoyable to visit them at the facility. Many facilities even have visitation or game rooms that have activities for both the adults and any visiting grandchildren. By setting up a regular schedule of visits, your parent has something to look forward to that they can depend upon, so they won't feel abandoned at their new home.
Tip #4: Personalize Their Quarters
Whether they are in a single room or staying in an apartment-style unit, help them make the space their own. Hang up their favorite photographs and add some personal décor items. You may even be able to hang up new drapes or bring in some of their old furniture, depending on the facility and the style of lodging. The more steps you take to make it feel like home, the sooner that it will be home. Just keep in mind that rugs are usually discouraged, since they can pose a tripping hazard.