The later years in life come with many changes. As we age and health concerns become an important part of life, many of us worry that a move into assisted living will mean the end of our independent, active lifestyles.This is where our family plays an essential role. Although physical and mental capabilities may not be what they once were, maintaining an active relationship with family helps aging adults stay engaged with life. Their memories and emotional health are strengthened by reminiscing and connecting with family. However, it's not always easy for family members to understand how often to visit or how to spend time together during visits. In some cases, poor communication between family and staff can lead to problems with the resident's care.
As family members, how can we work with assisted living staff members to provide a happy, robust daily life for our aging loved one?
Understand Community Policies
First, make sure that you are aware of the community's guidelines. Each senior living facility has unique needs that require unique policies. For instance, some communities choose to restrict family visits due to the nature of care required by residents. It's essential to understand policies so that your involvement is beneficial, not interruptive, to your loved one's care.
When families do not understand the needs of the assisted living facility, their well-meaning visits can become a frustration. Here are a few simple things to keep in mind so that your presence is as helpful to your loved one as possible:
- Be respectful of staff members' time. They have many residents to care for in a limited time frame.
- Be careful not to take over and dominate the facility. Remember that the person you are visiting is not the only person in the community.
- Treat staff members as partners in your loved one's care, not as subordinates or adversaries.
- Staff and residents alike will love families who help out! Take initiative in tasks such as pushing wheel chairs, starting a game of cards with a lonely resident, or volunteering in the dining room.
Socializing and Recreational Activities
Many senior communities offer social events such as movie or game nights. Ask for a calendar of the activities planned by your community and make a priority of attending! It is not the quantity of time spent with your loved one, but the quality and type of activity. Make sure your visits are filled with worthwhile activities and quality time.
This is a great opportunity to get involved with your elder's life. The transition to assisted living can make aging adults feel isolated. Taking the time to get involved with their social circle will help them stay connected to the world around them. It's important to maintain the continuity of the life they had before the move to assisted living.
Working with the community to schedule your own events is another great way to stay connected. Perhaps a grandchild's music teacher can bring their students for a recital, or your family can help arrange an outing to a local park or museum.
The most important thing to remember is that your aging loved one's life does not need to stop just because they move to assisted living. Take initiative to help them stay active and alert. These years are a wonderful opportunity to create memories together.
So, if you have a parent or grandparent in assisted living, don't underestimate what a difference you can make in their life! Come alongside staff members and get involved in the community's social events. Your support will help your aging loved one enjoy an active, alert lifestyle after the transition to assisted living.