For family members: help your loved one adjust
In fairly all situations where the elder decides to move to a care home, regardless of the reasons behind this step, feelings of guilt and sorrow can appear on both sides – the senior’s and the family members’. Especially if the movement is caused by the family’s inability of providing proper care for the loved ones, the risks of dealing with some sort of depression and anxiety run high. Even though all our efforts are focused on offering residents the best conditions for a smooth adjustment, the family’s support is priceless for the one being housed.
Here are a few suggestions that might help your loved one feel more at ease with this change and create a sense of mutual involvement.
1) Plan everything ahead and always ask for your elder’s opinion.
From the very search of a fitting adult care home, you must keep in mind that your elder has the final word on any decision. If something you might find acceptable or desirable doesn’t correspond to the elder’s feelings, than it is best to find a way to a reasonable compromise. The same thing applies to all the arrangements done prior to moving. In some cases, seniors keep their homes and most of their belongings, should there be a chance of returning or leaving the property as an inheritance. But other cases come with the necessity of selling most of the remaining belongings, due to no prospect of returning, or selling the whole house. These are matters to be resolved with patience and understanding, even though at times, seniors might prove to be indecisive and emotionally unstable. Letting go to a lifetime of memories and starting fresh at this point in life is very difficult. On the other hand, planning everything with care and having a mutually agreed scheme to follow through is always an incentive to actually take one step at a time, and get to the desired destination.
2) Start moving arrangements as early as possible, ask for help when needed.
Not always are family members available to help out with everything that has to do with the loved one’s moving. This is when another family member, friend or specialized agency should come in question. Ensuring that everything starts maybe a good few months before moving is a good way to allow no risks of crisis and lack of coordination. Don’t leave anything last-minute, it might likely ruin your loved one’s disposition and make the transition even harder.
3) Look at the bright side.
Of course, elders might feel a sense of abandonment when moving into a care home. It is natural for them to miss the time spent with their family, especially during the period of adjustment to their new home. But not for long – most senior residents develop beautiful friendships and get to like companionship and being cared for, even though you still might hear slight complaints ever once in a while. Always try to encourage your elder and constantly remind him / her of the benefits of being cared for properly, in a quality home. At some point, they will agree with you.
4) Encourage your loved one’s hobbies and passions.
It is common for many to postpone certain leisure activities and passions for a time when the number of things that have to be done decreases, responsibility loosens up and time suddenly seems abundant. For most of us, this means old age. Maybe your loved one has left behind an activity that used to be extremely pleasurable, or perhaps is anxious to keep his / her hobbies in a new community. It is again up to you to help out and encourage your elder into pursuing their favorite activities – source the materials for them, ask them repeatedly on updates, get involved in their doings. It matters enormously.
5) Visit, communicate, be present.
The final piece of advice is, perhaps, the most valuable. The pain of being left in a care home and not being sufficiently visited or contacted by the family is serious, and this can only lower the possibility of a proper adjustment. Talk to your elders as frequently as possible, even if you cannot make it in person but 2 or 3 times a week. Often does a daily 10 minute phone talk charge the senior’s hope and optimism and keep him / her well-spirited. If he / she is physically able to visit, take him / her home for a day or weekend every once in a while, making the elder feel just as important a part of family as before.
These are the most common things that family members should try to accomplish, for their elder’s well-being. We cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining a good relationship and communication with the residents, as separation from family can often be the number one sadness and poor integration trigger.