Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work that way. You think you’ve found the perfect fit for your loved one, only to discover he’s terribly unhappy. What now?
Here are five steps you can take if your senior loved one hates his assisted living facility.
1. Look for assisted living red flags.
If your loved one is having problems with assisted living, the first thing to do is find out why. Does she dislike the new sounds and smells, her new neighbors, the new routines? Or is it something more serious, like being treated poorly? It’s important to distinguish between typical adjustment issues and concerns that signal real problems with assisted living staff and care. If you suspect elder abuse, contact the facility’s long-term care ombudsman immediately to file a report and work out an appropriate solution for your loved one.
2. Give him time to adjust to assisted living.
If your loved one is not in danger and is not being abused in any way, give her time to get accustomed to her new home. Transition is often challenging; a few days or weeks are typically not long enough to make a complete adjustment. While a good assisted living facility will work hard to help your loved one engage with the community, the change won’t happen overnight. Moving a senior from place to place could do more harm than good, so it’s wise to take a wait-and-see approach.
3. Spend time together.
Moving to assisted living should not mean that your loved one loses contact with you and with the outside world. If she feels like she has been dropped off and left to fend for herself, she will feel resentful of her new environment, no matter how wonderful it might be. Visit your loved one in assisted living, and spend time with her like you used to. Your familiar presence could help her feel more comfortable and at home in her new surroundings.
4. Consult a geriatric care manager.
If your loved one has continuous assisted living complaints and you can’t figure out what’s best for her, don’t go it alone. Consider hiring a professional geriatric care manager, or case manager, to help you navigate the sometimes-confusing world of senior living. The case manager can help you determine what’s really going on with your loved one, and help you find the most appropriate facility if a change is needed.
5. Take care of yourself.
If you’ve done all you can and your loved one’s unhappiness persists, recognize that the problem is out of your hands. While you are her advocate in assisted living and you need to make sure she’s being properly cared for, you are not responsible for her happiness. Her happiness is her choice. Do your best to maintain the relationship, but respect your own boundaries. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself, too.