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What to Expect After Moving to Assisted Living

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What to Expect After Moving to Assisted LivingMoving into an assisted living community is usually a choice made after careful deliberation. Often, a family will discuss the options available in addition to taking their loved one's wishes into account. An assisted living home will help improve the quality of life of the senior in question while also ensuring they can still live as independently as possible.

Once the choice has been made to move into an assisted living community, the next step is preparing for relocation. This usually involves downsizing a lifetime of things into a single room or apartment that will be their new home. Aside from the logistics of moving, there is also an emotional aspect to the process.

Getting older is often difficult, especially for seniors who have always been highly self-reliant. Asking for help or even requiring assistance due to poor health or mobility issues can be a tough pill to swallow. An assisted living community will allow for an older person to retain their dignity while getting the assistance they need to thrive. After everything is set and relocation is imminent, many families and seniors start wondering what to expect after the move is complete.

Assisted Environment Unlike Active Retirement Living

Many types of communities for seniors have been created to meet the diverse needs of an aging population. Two of the most common senior communities are active retirement communities and assisted living communities. While they may seem very similar, they are actually quite different. Seniors who choose to live in an active retirement facility generally have little to no serious medical issues and tend to be very active and able to mainly care for themselves. Elderly residents who choose to live in an assisted living facility, on the other hand, tend to have an issue with mobility, illness or even memory conditions. While many seniors in assisted living communities may have good health, in general, these residents need a helping hand on a regular basis to thrive.

Different Types of Residents

Retirement has a lot of different meanings depending on the person. Assisted living is a place for elderly adults who prefer to live in a safe environment where they have access to staff and caregivers 24 hours a day. There is no specific age for those who chose to live in an assisted living home. There also isn't any particular type of resident that is best suited for this type of facility. Assisted living communities allow older adults to live their lives with dignity and respect while having access to much-needed support all year long. Seniors that choose assisted living due to medical-related and health-related issues will have the support they need to thrive and the help they need in a time of illness.

Smaller Living Space

Most assisted living homes offer residents a studio or a one-bedroom living space, in some cases, residents may choose to share a space with a roommate. The majority of seniors will be moving into assisted living from a large home and should prepare for the space limitations that come with their new home.

If possible, visit the new location several times prior to permanent relocation to help make the transition from a larger space to a smaller one go more smoothly. There are many items that will have to be left behind, and coming to terms with these changes in advance will help ease the transition.

Changes in Privacy

Moving from a private home into a community setting can be jarring for most people, even more so when they are older. Incoming residents should be prepared to have new people in their space and around them in common areas. In the initial weeks, it may be slightly difficult to adjust when there are so many new faces around. However, once they are settled in, the social aspect of the facility will become much more welcome. Although there is less privacy than you would have in your own home, seniors are still able to maintain a high level of independence and privacy during their stay. Rooms and apartments are considered private spaces for each resident. Any visitors, family members or staff will have to seek permission prior to entry just as they would do in a private dwelling. The exceptions, of course, are the caregivers tasked with regular medical assistance, grooming, and cleaning staff.

Second Thoughts

Relocating from home to a community created for seniors who need assistance is an emotional process. Seniors may feel like their independence has been stripped away and they may also be mourning the loss of their youth. Leaving behind the home that they have lived in for what is most likely a great majority of their lives is even harder. This can cause seniors to have second thoughts about their move even if they know they need dedicated help due to illness or mobility issues.

Family members should also expect to feel doubts about sending their loved ones to live in an assisted living community. Most families will try to make arrangements that allow their loved ones to stay at home or with another family member. It is natural to feel guilty about handing over their care to strangers. Though these feelings are normal and should be expected, keep in mind that an assisted living facility will be able to provide a higher level of care for seniors than they can receive at home. With time and as the family watches their loved one thrive, these feelings will transform from guilt into relief that comes from knowing their loved one is well cared for.

Plan for Setbacks

In a perfect world, moving would be easy and the settling in process would be instant. Unfortunately, we live in reality and that means things won’t always go according to the plan. Small setbacks are a normal part of the relocation process and knowing that you should expect them will help you plan accordingly.

Seniors who move from their own home or out of their loved one’s home will often mention that they feel lonely and isolated. It is especially true for seniors who were previously reluctant to the idea of moving to assisted living. It is also normal for seniors to feel put off by the other residents around them in the initial weeks of their stay. These feelings are usually followed up by a request to return home and though it may be hard to say no, just remember that these feelings will pass with time.

While feeling isolated and the desire to return home is normal in the first weeks and months after a senior relocated, they should also resolve. If these feelings have not normalized by the six-month mark, it may be a sign that something else is amiss. Though rare, seniors who relocate to assisted living facilities may be faced with bouts of depression. It is important to be aware of the possibility so that it can be addressed right away. With treatment, therapy, or extra time dedicated to the resident by the staff, temporary depression can be cured. In rare cases, these feelings and comments may be actual signs of neglect. In these instances, it is important to speak with the enrollment officer or even change facilities to one that better fits the needs of your loved one.

Getting Settled

Talking about the upcoming move is the best way to start mentally preparing for what comes next. Talk you to your family, friends and loved ones about your expectations and any fears you may have. Adjusting to a new place and a new way of life is hard for both the families and the senior.

Many elderly people tend to feel rather intimidated when they make the change to an assisted living facility. This is mainly in part to the drastic change in living arrangements paired with the new routine they must learn. Humans are creatures of habit, and seniors have spent most of their lives forming habits that make them comfortable and happy. Moving into a new place that has a different set of rules brings big changes to those habits. It is important to mentally prepare for this in advance of the big move. Knowing that there are going to be changes will help ease the adjustment period tremendously. 

Prepare for New People

Keep in mind that there are always going to be several different caregivers and staff members throughout the facility. Depending on the size of the community, there may be hundreds of staff members or only a few dozen for smaller locations. These helping hands are there to assist residents with everything they need to thrive, from carrying heavy items to assisting with daily grooming. Many seniors often face a minor shock when they move from a private home into a community that has many different caregivers.

Along with caregivers, there are also other residents who will now be neighbors. Most seniors are social enough to not be concerned with new people, but an assisted living community is slightly different. Senior communities are much more close-knit than living in a neighborhood. Instead of having to dress up and go outside to meet someone, you can often just go across the hall. For seniors who enjoy being social, this new arrangement is a great way to help ease the transition. For seniors who prefer their solitude, the change can be slightly more disruptive. The best way to handle both situations is to make friends and stay active early on.

Medical Needs

Most seniors have at least one medical condition that will need to be addressed; in some cases, a resident may have several conditions. While your family may understand all of the nuances that come with the illness of their loved one, it will take some time for the caregivers at the facility to become habituated. Assisted living caregivers are trained in the care of seniors and are able to properly assist those who have medical concerns. Each person is different and will also have other symptoms and needs that fall outside of textbook parameters. It is important to understand in advance that there will be a learning curve in the initial weeks after your loved one relocates. One way to help ease this transition is to make a list or folder that has all of their medical information, preferences and any other helpful information; for example, if your loved one prefers to take their medication at a certain time of the day or if they require special attention during a condition related episode. This will help the staff at the facility serve the resident better and reduce any discomfort that comes with a change in their situation.

Personal Needs

Many seniors prefer not to ask for help even if they need it. When living at home, it is easy to depend on friends or family members for help with personal needs, but when you move into an assisted living community, that role will be taken over by caregivers. The staff at these facilities are happy to help with grooming, feeding, personal care and other tasks that seniors have trouble completing on their own. As a new resident, it is normal to feel shy or hesitant about asking for help, but this feeling should pass the longer you remain a resident. Family members can help ease the transition by giving the caregivers a list of the most common times and things their loved one may need help with. This can reduce the need to call for help and further facilitate a smooth transition from home to an assisted living community.

Getting Adjusted to Your Senior Assisted Living Community

Learning to love a new home takes time and effort but with a little help from all sides, it will become clear that an assisted living facility is the best choice. There are a lot of amazing services, opportunities, and friends to discover during your stay or your loved one's residency. The best way to speed the transition is by making new friends and exploring the community and all it has to offer. Senior Guidance is always here to help you understand the services available and the differences in senior facilities. Check out our blog for more information.

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