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, puts it, “You’re not putting them in storage.”
With that in mind, view these five tips to stay 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 visits and other upcoming events. 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. Getting involved in the assisted living community can help ease your loved ones’ transition and bridge their old new lives. Your relationship with your loved ones should not be isolated; extending this relationship to others can strengthen your connection to each other.
While you want to be positive when your loved ones move into an assisted living community, you do not want to gloss over the challenges that such a big change brings. In fact, many individuals experience some trouble adjusting to the change. The transition can be traumatic, says Shearer, and caregivers should continue to provide compassion and grief awareness. The change in scenery, faces, and lifestyle can invoke recurrent feelings of loss, 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 to surprise them, consider sending frequent letters and care packages. A handwritten note shows that you’re thinking about them. Care packages aren’t just for college kids; you can pack their favorite treats, family photos, and other fun gifts. To simplify the process, connect with companies such as Senior Care Box or GrandBox, which curate and deliver monthly care packages to seniors.
5. Chat across the miles.
You may want to see your loved ones more than you are able to due to distance, work, or some other combination of factors. In these cases, video chat in second only to an in-person visit. 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 such as Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts to chat and engage with 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, consistent engagement now more than ever. 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?