Picture yourself as a child again, starting the first day at a new school. A sea of unknown faces, a building you’re unfamiliar with and a group of people who are supposed to be responsible for taking care of you. It can feel frightening, right? The first day in an assisted living facility isn’t too different: new people, new experiences, and a sense of being unsure what happens next.
Any time you have to adjust to a different way of living, you’ll likely experience some emotional stress. You may feel fear, sadness, anger, anxiety or any other number of emotions – and that’s perfectly normal! Learning to acclimate to this phase in life can be challenging, but it’s a fear you’ll certainly overcome.
Looking for some guidance on how you can help yourself or a loved one when adjusting to assisted living? Read on for some tips on how to make this an easy transition for all involved.
Step into their shoes
It’s crucial that you be kind and understanding when a loved one is making the transition to assisted living. Try to imagine what they are feeling. If they’ve been in their home for decades, it can feel like a major loss to move out and sell the house. If you think these changes are hard for you, they’re harder for your loved one.
Address their concerns with care and provide answers for any questions they have. Give honest answers without talking down to your loved one or coming off as flippant. For instance, if they ask, “How often will you come to visit me?” answer directly and honestly. “Two times a month” or “I’m not sure yet, I need to see how busy work is going to be these next few months. I’ll let you know by the end of the week,” are both good examples of clearly communicating how often you’ll be seeing one another. Continue to practice clear communication when discussing any issues they have with the move.
It’s okay to become involved, but be careful not to become too involved. If you’re stopping by too often, it gets harder to become accustomed to the change. There’s nothing wrong with limiting your visits if it becomes an issue. You want to focus on quality over quantity for visiting your loved ones.
Making the transition
As you’re making the transition to assisted living, your loved one may not be sure what to do. Share these tips with them to better prepare them for this stage in their life:
- Ask others for advice. You might have friends who have already moved into assisted living, or maybe you’re making friends in your assisted living facility. Ask them how they handled the transition and see if they have any wisdom to offer to make your time there better.
- Stay busy. The worst thing you can do in a new environment is give yourself time to think. It’s the same reason why summer camps keep kids busy – if they don’t stay busy, they’ll get homesick. Assisted living facilities offer numerous fun activities each day to keep your mind occupied and to engage your brain, so try something new!
- Allow for some time to adjust. It’s incredibly unlikely that you’ll immediately fall in love with your living arrangements immediately. Allow yourself some time at first to get used to your new routine. It helps to incorporate a part of your old routine each day to ease the transition. Do you like to set aside time to read or exercise? Consider keeping this in your schedule so the change doesn’t feel too abrupt.
- Get help. If time has passed and you’re still not feeling any better, reach out to a trusted professional. There could be other issues at play that are making your transition harder than it has to be. Don’t be afraid to reach out either! You have the right to speak up if you’re feeling unhappy with your situation, and speaking up means you’ll be able to take steps to fix it.
If you or a loved one is considering becoming a part of an assisted living community, contact Culpepper Place.
Our caring staff will ensure that your loved one feels safe and happy while adjusting to assisted living.