How to Help Loved Ones Make the Transition to Assisted Living in Ottawa
Moving to a new home at any stage in our lives can be stressful and scary.
And when it involves moving to an assisted living community, this transition can cause a lot of emotions for all those involved.
For retired loved ones who are still independent but who will also benefit from access to extra services, such as cooking, cleaning, and on-site healthcare, assisted living communities are a great choice.
These communities provide peace of mind with the additional safety, healthcare, and security for loved ones—plus socialization and engaging activities.
Assisted living retirement communities are ideal for those who may need extra assistance in their day-to-day lives, while still having their own place to call home, maintaining their own freedom and independence.
To help make the transition to assisted living in Ottawa less stressful for your loved one, consider the following advice.
Challenges for Families
Feelings of Guilt
Family members often feel guilty for supporting a relative’s move to an assisted living community. Adult children feel especially guilty because they are not able to take care of their parents yet they think it’s their responsibility to do so.
But it’s often unrealistic for adult children to take care of their parents, especially when they are juggling their careers and caring for their own kids. And if their parents need extra assistance with healthcare or day-to-day tasks, adult children are not able to provide that care 24/7.
While it’s quite normal to feel guilty, know that you should not feel guilty and that your loved one will adjust to their new lifestyle and thrive in a new community while getting that extra care and attention they need.
Challenges for Loved Ones in Assisted Living
Feelings of Loss
Downsizing to a smaller home in an assisted living community often means residents must sell their homes, get rid of most of their furniture and belongings, and say goodbye to the life they’ve known for years.
Your loved one may experience a strong sense of loss when moving. They will mourn the loss of their home, their total independence, and their younger years.
Fear of Change
Change is scary, especially when it involves getting rid of many cherished things in one’s life.
Along with fearing the change in home and lifestyle, your loved one may be afraid of aging, making new friends, and getting around their new community.
Strategies to Ease Transition Stress
Always include your loved one in the planning and decision-making process so they feel involved.
Since you are planning to make a change in their life, it’s important that they feel respected and their opinions are valued. They should have as much input as possible when it comes to making these life decisions.
This planning should also include what belongings they will bring to their new home. It’s important to surround them with familiar, cherished belongings, like photos, artwork, books, bedding, and favourite dishes. Avoid adding too many new things to their new home that they will need to learn to use.
During the planning process, stay positive and try to help your loved one stay positive too. Encourage them to keep an open mind in the matter and look at the benefits of this transition.
While this may not be a particularly positive time in your lives, especially if a recent death in the family, an injury, or an illness resulted in this decision, stay focused on how they are making a good, healthy change in their lives.
Consider having these conversations casually in a comfortable and neutral environment where everyone feels at ease.
Ask for Feedback
Once your loved one has moved to assisted living, maintain open communication with them and the assisted living team. This feedback will help you know what’s working and what isn’t so you can help improve your loved one’s experience and quality of life.
Don’t be afraid to speak up on behalf of your loved one. If your loved one has a concern but is too shy or afraid to bring it up with staff, you should discuss it with the assisted living team instead. This way everyone will be on the same page.
What to Expect
It Takes Time to Adjust
The average time it takes for a resident to adjust to their new assisted living lifestyle is about three to six months. While it may take longer, or shorter, for your loved one to adjust to their new life, don’t lose sight of the reason for choosing assisted living.
Only Visit When You Can
While your loved one will appreciate visits, don’t expect yourself to go every day, or even every week if it’s not realistic. You should give your loved one time to adjust to their new home. And you should also take time for yourself, especially if you have a busy life. When you can’t visit, ask other family members to take turns visiting.
Expect your loved one to have setbacks in settling in. They might tell you that they are lonely or unhappy and want to go home. This will be difficult for you to hear, but do expect their attitude to change with time.
It’s important to talk through these feelings with your loved one, even if it’s difficult. While you can’t promise to change their entire situation, you can be there for them to listen while they talk about their feelings. And that support will help.
Throughout the transition, from planning and moving to settling into assisted living, listen to and acknowledge your loved one’s fears and concerns. This will help them get over their fears, and it will also make them more likely to listen to you if they feel heard.
This transition to assisted living can be a stressful time. But with these tips and understanding what your loved one is going through, you can ease their stress and your own.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Just be there for your loved one, and they will adjust to their new lifestyle with time, making new friends, and thriving in an engaging and caring community.