We all know that change is rarely easy. Many times it seems that the older we get, the more set in our ways we become and change somehow gets harder. Even after doing hours of research and visiting senior communities, your loved one may still second guess this decision. So what do you do if your loved one is having a hard time settling in to a senior community?
- Determine the source – The most important questions is this: is the problem from within or from outside sources? Is it a problem that your loved one would face in any senior community or is there a real dilemma with the new residence? Is it homesickness? Is it loneliness? Are there enough activities to keep your loved one involved? Is it a friendly community? Are your loved one’s expectations realistic? Knowing where the problem lies is the first step to finding the right solution.
- Calendar of Events – Loneliness is one of the biggest problems that seniors face and for some reason, it’s just as scary going to a meet-and-greet where you don’t know anyone when your 70 years old as when you were 16. Having your loved one involved as much as possible and with as many groups as possible gives a better chance of finding someone who has the right chemistry for friendship.
- Home is where the _________is. – I read about one senior who was from India. The transition was made easier for her when she had her cabinet stocked with all of her favorite snacks and cooking supplies from her native home. One gentleman brought his collection of music to remind him of his passion and the familiar. Home is where you are surrounded by things that you love.
- Give the staff a heads up – Is your mom unusually shy? Does your dad live to play golf? Letting the staff know about important characteristics concerning your loved one can help them to pay special attention to their involvement. It can even assist them in plugging your loved one into the right social circles or club activities.
- Give it time – It’s hard to leave behind the “what ifs” and regrets. We all second guess ourselves about one major decision or another. However, one week, one month or even a few months can be too short a time to really acclimate to an unfamiliar environment. Just like in new job, new school, or new marriage, it’s tough to adjust to major changes. Honeymoon periods end and life happens. After six months you’ll have a better perspective on what changes need to be made and what compromises you can live with.