After all the time you’ve spent planning, preparing, and packing for assisted living, you may think your job is done once the move is complete. But that’s only the beginning. Though your loved ones have moved to assisted living, they still need you in their life.
As Jayne Shearer, Certified Senior Advisor and founder/owner of The Home Advantage, which manages households for seniors, puts it, “You’re not putting them in storage and shipping them off.”
With that in mind, take a look at five tips for staying involved in your loved ones’ life and care.
1. Pack a calendar.
When moving seniors to assisted living, Shearer recommends hanging a calendar in their room to mark your upcoming visits and other events to look forward to. But remember that a line item on the calendar is like a promise: “You can’t put it on the calendar and not show,” she says. Take these commitments seriously so you don’t let your loved ones down.
2. Meet their friends.
Another way to stay connected with your loved ones is to spend time getting to know the other residents – their new friends, says Shearer. Your getting involved in the assisted living community can help ease your loved ones’ transition and bridge their old life to their new one. Your relationship with your loved ones does not exist in a vacuum; inviting others in can actually strengthen your connection to each other.
3. Acknowledge the challenges.
While we want to be positive when our loved ones are moving to assisted living – particularly if they’re having trouble adjusting to the change – we don’t want to pretend that life is just the same as it was before. The transition can be traumatic, says Shearer, and caregivers should continue to provide compassion and grief awareness. Feelings of loss are something they will face again and again because of their transition to a new life, she says. Listening to your loved ones without diminishing their concerns helps them feel heard, acknowledged, and loved.
4. Send special treats.
If you live too far from your loved ones to make regular visits – or if you just want to delight them with a special surprise – consider sending frequent letters and care packages. A handwritten note shows you’re thinking about them and that you care enough to let them know. And care packages aren’t just for college kids. You can pack favorite treats, family photos, and other fun gifts for the seniors in your life. To simplify the process, connect with companies like Senior Care Box or GrandBox, which curate and deliver monthly care packages to seniors.
5. Chat across the miles.
For caregivers at a distance – or those who want to see their loved ones more than they are able – video chat makes you feel as if you’re in the room together. Even if your loved ones are not tech-savvy, you can ask an assisted living caregiver to help set up the connection. Choose from programs like Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts to chat and keep a better eye on your loved ones than you can over the phone.
Clearly, moving to assisted living doesn’t mean your loved ones no longer need you in their life. In fact, the opposite is true – they need strong community now more than ever because, as Shearer says, “Isolation contributes to fast decline.”
Stay connected with your loved ones in assisted living, and you can help them get the most out of this new chapter of their life.
Chime in: In what ways do you stay connected with your loved ones in assisted living?