Making an Assisted Living Community Feel Like Home
As the ones we love age and their health begins to decline, it may become necessary to consider moving them to an assisted living community. While this is a natural step in aging, you may face a significant amount of reluctance from your loved one. They may be angry and hurt, at first, at the thought of leaving their home to move to somewhere unfamiliar, but in time they may find that home is a feeling – not a place.
According to Edward Toy, Director of Sales and Marketing at Lions Gate, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Voorhees, NJ, one of the things you can do to warm your loved one up to their new assisted living community is by actually making it look and feel like home. “Many times, seniors can struggle with the sudden change that comes with moving from home to an assisted living community, especially when they’ve lived at this place for their entire lives,” he states. “They may resent the fact they will need to leave what they know and love behind in order to get the care they need, while not realizing that there are many ways to make their assisted living community feel just as comfortable as home – with less responsibility and many more benefits.”
In an article about the challenges of moving to an assisted living community, it states that there are many reasons a loved one may be reluctant to leave home to move to an assisted living community. Some of these challenges include:
- Downsizing. Loved ones who are moving to an assisted living community may dread getting rid of the items in their home in order to make space for moving into a new home. The items that they have accumulated from the past may have significant meaning that they do not want to give up.
- New routines. If a loved one is used to doing things at a set time, such as eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at a certain time, they may not like having to eat at set times during the day, especially when they may prefer to eat sooner or later than others. They may also have other routines that they are used to at home, such as having the family over and having movie or game nights, and may be afraid they will not be able to continue these events.
- Fear of losing friends. If your loved one is a social butterfly and is always in the company of friends, they may not want to leave them. If the assisted living community they are moving to is a little further away, they may be afraid their friends will not come to see them. This can cause them to become resentful and they may possibly feel abandoned.
“While these are some of the common reasons that seniors are hesitant to move to an assisted living community, there are many things you can do in order to ease these fears,” Ed states. “It is important for you as a caregiver to be understanding, patient and accommodating as you can possibly be. Try your hardest to get in their head and feel what they feel, and most of all, be sure to listen to your loved one’s concerns and see if there is anything you can do to make their space feel like the home they loved so much.”
MAKING A LOVED ONE’S ASSISTED LIVING COMMUNITY FEEL LIKE HOME
- Make it look like home. You can help to ease loved ones into the new environment by making it look like their old home. Be sure that they have their favorite furniture and try to find curtains the same color as the curtains in their old house. Bring the bedspread they previously had. Take pictures they had hung and hang them in the same pattern that they were hung before. Even the smallest touches can make it feel like home.
- Decorate! Ask them what they want to bring to the assisted living community. This can help to make them feel as though they still hold control and have a connection to their past. Perhaps your loved one doesn’t want to bring anything from home and prefers to buy new furniture and redecorate. If this is what they want to do, let them do it. Give them the opportunity to truly make this space theirs. Make sure to keep some of the old items just in case they end up wanting something back.
- Find ways to keep their routine the same. When your loved one lived at home, what were some things they used to do? Did they host book clubs? Did they have coffee with friends and neighbors? Did they enjoy playing cards? Encourage loved ones to keep doing these things. To make it easier, buy them some new books that might make them want to keep hosting book clubs. Make sure they have a coffee set available and within reach anytime a neighbor may stop over. Stock them up with playing cards or board games they love. It may encourage them to continue the tradition and help them to begin to socialize with their neighbors and make new friends.
- Have your loved one’s friends visit. If your loved one is concerned that they will lose friends by moving, arrange for them to visit periodically. Either take your loved one out to meet their friend or surprise your loved one by bringing their friend to them. This seemingly small act can be one of the best housewarming presents they will get!
- Get your loved one involved. If the hobbies or activities your loved one enjoys participating in have corresponding clubs at the assisted living community, encourage them to join. If your loved one gardened often at home and there is a gardening club, take them to a meeting. Maybe your loved one could even grow the plants they used to at home. Getting their hands dirty and jumping into the activities they did in the past can help them to feel as if they really are home.
- Visit them often. Be sure to help your loved one the day of the move. Help them to put items where they want them, stay and visit with them. It can help to invite neighbors over for coffee to introduce your loved one and help them to begin to talk to others. Be sure to not smother your loved one, though. You want to make it feel comfortable, but you don’t want to hinder them from making new friends and making a new home of their own.
EXPERIENCE LIFESTYLE, CARE, COMMUNITY AND TRADITION AT LIONS GATE.
Lions Gate, located in Voorhees, NJ, offers a continuum of lifestyle and care options rooted in Jewish traditions and values. Whether you are in need of Independent Living,Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing or Rehabilitation Services, Lions Gate has you covered.
Our mission at Lions Gate is to enrich the lives of those we serve through quality and compassionate care consistent with our heritage and values. We strive to provide programs and services that inspire well-being, as well as social, cultural and spiritual independence.
As a full-service community rich in wellness programs, meaningful experiences and educational opportunities from Lions Gate University, Lions Gate allows residents to connect with those who share their interests and cherished traditions. Our goal is to provide residents with an active, worry-free lifestyle filled with ways to connect with others, pursue their passions and be engaged in everyday life. While we focus on Jewish customs and traditions, we welcome people of all faiths to the Lions Gate family.
Through our affiliation with Jewish Senior Housing and Healthcare Service, we also offer three senior living communities for those with limited incomes.