Families with aging parents continue to look for alternatives to traditional nursing home facilities. The assisted living model was designed to improve the availability of services and foster an environment that promotes personal independence. Naturally, some people worry that this type of move will isolate them from their parents and cause loneliness and anxiety. However, there are many simple strategies that can help alleviate these worries.
Keeping a Close Bond with Your Parents
Here are seven ways to remain connected to your parents so they will thrive in their new home.
*Stay in Frequent Contact: No matter how often you normally call your parents, it is important to contact them more frequently, especially during the early stages of the move. There doesn’t need to be a special occasion to prompt a phone call. It should become a regular part of your routine, which your mom or dad will look forward to and appreciate.
* Encourage Proper Healthcare: Obvious conditions such as vision and hearing loss can lead to social isolation and loneliness. However, other ailments like diabetes, high blood pressure and cognitive impairment can cause an elderly person to withdraw from social contact. Always encourage your parents to maintain a regular schedule of health checkups and discuss medical situations with them.
* Visit Regularly: Face-to-face visits are much better than a phone call, and you can actually evaluate how well your parent is adjusting to their new environment. Seniors enjoy the physical presence of someone close to them, and there is no replacing a hug or a warm smile. Even if your parent is having a bad day, it is important to continue making regular visits.
* Help Them Use Technology: Using technology can help keep your parents feeling more connected to friends and family members. Modern tablets and laptop computers are relatively user friendly, and services such as Skype provide a means to communicate visually, which adds a more personal touch to the call. If your parents are tech savvy, help them set up social media profiles and connect to others through services like Facebook or Pinterest.
* Social Activities: Arrange trips and events your parent will enjoy. Most communities have ongoing events including concerts, movies, festivals, museums and theaters. If you accompany your parent, they may have an opportunity to do things they would not be able to do alone. Check with your mom or dad and do some online research to find venues they will enjoy.
* Check the Assisted Living Social Calendar: Most assisted living facilities have a coordinator who arranges different monthly activities and events either onsite or offsite. Check the calendar and remind your parent of upcoming activities they have expressed interest in.
*Discuss Loneliness: Many problems related to depression, anxiety and loneliness remain hidden, especially in a generation that was raised to suppress such feelings. It is important to talk to your parents openly about these issues in order to accurately assess their mental health. Always try and make sure they are involved in community events and hobbies they enjoy. Parents like to feel they are needed, so include them in important family related decisions.
Assisted Living can Work for Everyone
The vast majority of seniors find the assisted living experience to be enjoyable and fulfilling. While the initial transition may bring challenges, the reassurance of a committed family will help ease the fear of the new resident and shorten the adjustment period of moving into assisted living.
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