Transitioning to a senior living community | #seniorliving | #elderly | #seniors
How many of us can truly say we like change? Not many. Any initial transitions, whether it be a new job, a new home, or school, can be difficult. The transition, and even the decision, to move to a long-term care community can be another one of those challenging life transitions for both seniors and their children.
Acknowledging the transition can be difficult is both necessary and refreshing – professionals in a long-term care community know this as well and shows seniors and their children alike this new experience is a shared experience, making the concept of transitioning to a long-term care community less isolating. It is completely normal for many emotions to follow the decision to move to a long-term care community, including relief, guilt, sadness, and happiness.
It is important to reinforce the reasons why the decision to move to a long-term care community was made in the first place. A long-term care community has many benefits: increasing social engagement, more clinical care, 24/7 supervision, better meals, assistance with activities of daily living, a safer, more accessible living space, and more.
A great deal of thought, research, and planning is typically involved when looking for the best community. Take the time to become familiar with a community before the move – it can help ease fear and apprehension. Always make sure to take a pre-move tour if available, ask questions, make new plans for the new living space, and learn about the social and recreational activities. Do this by observing, or even participating in a program! Staff and residents are usually more than willing to talk with other seniors and potential new residents about their experiences; have a meal with a resident! Make sure to use them as a resource on tours.
You can make the move easier by making it exciting – bringing key items from the senior’s previous living space will make the new residence feel more familiar. This can include artwork, family photographs, a favorite quilt, and a tote of their favorite crafts or hobbies such as knitting materials, crossword puzzles, and stationary. Then, go shopping for a few new items, such as decorative pillows or books to create a feeling of excitement for the new space!
One of the biggest keys to success is to allow the new resident some space to help them digest their new surroundings, while offering options and friendship. Family members may understandably experience feelings of guilt or anxiety when someone close to them transitions to a long-term care community. However, it is essential to give them space and freedom to help them establish independence. If the senior is shy, introverted, or has a difficult time adjusting, speak to a staff member to help them get the support they need.
It can take a long time for a new resident to adjust, especially in a memory care setting. Rest assured, your loved one is being cared for. With an abundance of patience and kindness, even the most challenging transitions will work out. Be patient with the process.
New residents’ necessary level of care will change and fluctuate over time. Long-term care communities have the resources and knowledgeable staff members to meet those changing needs. Staff observe residents and discuss changes in care needs with the resident or designated family member or friend.
Make sure to use resources available to you. Every transition and new phase in life comes with unexpected challenges and issues; moving to a new community is no exception. Take advantage of the professionals within the new community and any other resources. Keep in mind that long-term care communities can be the ideal solution to maintaining a senior’s quality of life while fulfilling their healthcare needs.
It is completely normal for many emotions to follow the decision to move to a long-term care community, including relief, guilt, sadness, and happiness.
Jenna Anderson is the director of marketing and sales for SALMON Health and Retirement, based in Milford.