Seniors — just like the rest of us — are creatures of habit. We all thrive on our routines, whether it’s our morning coffee with the news, a bedtime ritual, or spending time in the garden each day. Even the best new living situation for seniors disrupts established routines. New people, new furniture, and a new environment all require an adjustment period. Here’s how to help the senior you love adapt and thrive in a new living situation.
Don’t Take Away Control
If your loved one faces physical or cognitive challenges, you may worry about their ability to make good decisions, or even think you should make decisions for them. Many adult children report that it’s difficult to get their parents to listen. Your loved one still wants to live life on their terms, and physical decline isn’t going to change that. So don’t try to take over their life or make decisions on their behalf. Talk to them like an equal person whose feelings matter, and work with them to find a living situation that works for everyone.
Listen to Their Feelings
When you’re talking to your loved one about their senior living options, focusing on the positive can help them see things from a new perspective. That doesn’t mean you should ignore their emotions, or scold them for expressing sadness or frustration. Give your loved one an outlet for their emotions so that they don’t feel stuck in negative feelings. All human beings have a right to express themselves, so provide a compassionate ear and listen without judgment.
Address Their Concerns
Even the best new living situation for seniors can present some challenges. Take your loved one’s concerns seriously, and find ways to meaningfully address them. If they’re concerned about not having enough space for their possessions, offer to rent a storage space. If they can’t stomach the idea of leaving behind their garden, help them transition to indoor gardening or invest in a plot at a community garden. Show your loved one that they can still live the life they love in a different home.
Help Them Pack
Moving can be a nightmare, even under the best circumstances. When you’re trying to downsize your entire life or are skeptical about your new living situation, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Don’t leave your loved one to do it all on their own. Help them pack. Start early, and make the process fun. Put on old family movies or share family stories. Reminisce about the heirlooms you find and remind your loved one that a change in their home does not mean that their relationships have to change.
Maintain Their Routines
Everyone has their own vision of an ideal day. In retirement, many seniors are able to make their dreams of the ideal day a reality. And so a disruption of their routine can be acutely painful. Find ways to help them maintain their routines. Ensure that they have their favorite coffee. Buy them a gift card for delivery from their favorite restaurant. Fill their new home with their most prized and familiar possessions. Your goal should be to make the new apartment feel like home.
Senior living can meet many of your loved one’s needs, but it’s not a substitute for loving family relationships. Particularly in the early weeks following a move to a senior living community, frequent visits can help ease the transition. As your loved one settles in, get involved in community life. Go to community events and celebrations to show your investment in your loved one’s new life and community.
As the nation’s most beloved senior living community, Arbor knows what it takes to help seniors lead joyful, meaningful lives. We understand that strong relationships with loved ones are a key aspect of thriving in retirement. That’s why we design communities that seniors are proud to call home, and that families love to visit. We host family-friendly events throughout the year, to ensure that you can all enjoy your loved one’s new community.
To learn more about what sets us apart, and for many senior living tips from the pros, download our free guide, “The Journey to Senior Living: A Step-by-Step Guide for Families.”