7 Tips to Enhance the Assisted Living Experience
While assisted living communities can offer the possibility of continued independence to seniors who need a little extra help, the transition from home to assisted living isn’t always an easy one. Leaving behind a house and neighborhood that may have a lifetime of memories attached can be stressful and even traumatic for older adults, but there are things you can do to ease the transition for one or both parents as they step forward into this new phase of life.
1. Switch Up the Decor
While many assisted living residences are beautifully furnished, decor chosen by a stranger may feel impersonal and can intensify the strangeness of new surroundings for resistant seniors. One way to make your parent feel more comfortable in his new apartment is to surround him with familiar items. Some assisted living communities allow and even encourage families to bring a senior’s own furniture, including a bed, to promote a homelike environment. But if custom furnishing isn’t an option, touches such as framed photographs, cherished knickknacks and books can bring a touch of home to unfamiliar surroundings. Other personal items to consider are artwork, personalized door signs, drawings by the grandkids and a favorite afghan to drape across the bed.
2. Rethink Visits
It’s easy to say, “I’ll stop by soon.” Instead, try scheduling specific visiting time with Mom or Dad so they know when they’ll have a familiar face to look forward to seeing. Encourage other family members, friends and former neighbors to do the same. Assurance that they aren’t severing ties with their life prior to assisted living can make the transition much easier, particularly for seniors who don't drive. Plus, it allows your parents the freedom to join in community activities or socialize with other residents without the worry of potentially missing a much-wanted visitor.
3. PROMOTE PARTICIPATION
One perk of assisted living is the sheer amount of activities often available to seniors in residence. In fact, the best senior communities actively emphasize the benefits of participation. From arts and crafts and bingo to volunteer opportunities and even cultural outings, your parents will likely have a variety of pastimes to choose from. These activities foster social connections, which is so important in this transition, and certain activities can improve motor skills and keep seniors’ minds sharp. So, grab an events calendar, make sure your parent knows what the community has to offer and actively encourage participation.
4. Encourage Learning
A great way to help ease the transition from one lifestyle to another is to encourage your parents to learn something new. Whether it’s gaining a skill, discovering a hidden talent or expanding knowledge, many experts believe that lifelong learning can increase emotional satisfaction in older adults. Here at Brightview, we offer regular programs and classes to engage our seniors. Check your parents’ assisted living community for seminars available to family members and caregivers. These informational seminars often impart useful information and may even help you help your parent.
5. Hang a Calendar
Calendars work wonders when transitioning parents to an assisted living program. By filling it in with scheduled visits, family birthdays and special events, you remind your parents that while they may have joined a new community, they are still connected to family and friends. Be sure to also pencil in interesting community activities, such as bingo, religious services or fitness classes for an at-a-glance reminder of opportunities available to them in their new home.
6. Plug In for Better Connection
Whether it’s a cell phone, tablet or virtual home assistant such as an Amazon Echo, make sure your parent has a way to keep in touch, especially if you don’t live near enough to visit often. We live in an age of video conferencing, a technology that provides a simple, personal way to stay connected with friends and lets your parent see familiar faces across long distances. There’s nothing like seeing the grandkids face to face to make your parent feel at home.
7. Give Parents Independence
While it's vital to stay connected to your parent(s) during the transition to assisted living, it’s equally important to give them enough space to design their own lives in their new home. Encourage your parents to use community resources rather than relying on you. Many programs have activities coordinators, affiliated clergy members and other designated staff members to answer questions, provide encouragement and help facilitate the transition to this new, exciting way of life.
At Brightview Senior Living, we want to help make your parent’s transition to senior living as comfortable as possible. To explore our communities and find out more about how we can help, please contact a Brightview Senior Living Community.