It likely takes most of us at least a little while to adjust to a new environment with new people. We experience this many times in our lives, from attending a new school to moving to a new neighborhood to the first day on a new job. Over time, we acclimate to our surroundings and a comfort level sets in when we make new acquaintances and often lifelong friends. Adjusting to assisted living is no different, and for some, may be even more traumatic.
There are a number of ways you can help your parent adjust to this life-changing event. You may already know of things you can do or items you can bring to your parent’s new home to help ease the transition. Here are some suggestions you may not have considered that are important for helping your parent adjust.
Make communication a top priority. Make sure your parent has their own cell phone or a landline with an answering machine. Program your number and that of other family members and friends on speed dial. Schedule a regular call time on your calendar so they can expect your call. At first, this should be every couple of days.
Encourage them to resume crafts and hobbies. This could be a former creative hobby, such as painting or drawing, even if they haven’t picked up a brush since they were in art school. They might even enjoy learning a new skill, such as sculpting, which may help keep arthritic fingers limber.
Send the unexpected package. A package of old photos, a greeting card or a flower delivery goes a long way toward assuring your parent you are thinking about them.
Get to know everyone on the staff. Make sure your parent knows who to contact for everything, including the meal planner, activity director and the facility manager at their assisted living community in OKC.
Take them out often. When seniors are completely cut off from their former life and surroundings, it can be devastating. Plan regular outings for lunch and shopping when appropriate and include trips to their old barber or a drive by their old neighborhood.
Join in with their activities. Accompany your parent to their first couple of meals and meet the other residents. This is important in helping them become acquainted and comfortable in the dining room. You can also join your dad in a board game or go to a group exercise class with your mom.
Familiarity in their room and belongings. When moving to senior living in Oklahoma City, be mindful of the items that are important to your parent and make sure they are included in the move. Items, such as a favorite easy chair, family photographs, paintings, decorations and other furnishings, will help bridge the gap between their former home and their new home. Make sure items that are used every day are easily accessible.
It takes time. Give your parent some time to get acclimated to assisted living and don’t be too concerned if it takes a bit longer than a couple of months for them to adjust. At some point, they’ll no longer be the ‘new kid on the block’ and will be helping welcome other new residents.
The staff at assisted living communities in OKC are familiar with difficult adjustment periods and will notice behavior changes in their residents. It’s important to consult with them during your visits.
The Village at Oakwood has caring staff who understands the importance of a comfortable transition to senior living in OKC. Contact us to learn more about our community and to request a tour.