Consider sticking around for a few days.
Even the most outgoing social butterfly can struggle to meet people in a new setting. Multiply your social skills by two with the Pair to Prepare™ program, where residents invite someone to stay in the community with them during their first few days, free of charge, to help ease the transition.
Stay in frequent contact with your loved one.
Make a list of community events to attend together, and schedule a time to catch up on the phone or in person. Text to check in throughout the day. Then let your loved one set the pace and tone of communication. If they seem anxious, reach out more. But if they seem annoyed or distracted, it may be a sign that they need a little less support.
Center your loved one’s feelings, not your own.
Don’t be dismissive if your loved one seems anxious or uncertain—or even angry or resentful. Telling your loved one to calm down or insisting that they remain positive does not make the negative feelings go away, but talking about them and problem-solving together might.
This is your loved one’s one and only life. They are entitled to the full range of human emotions about this change and about all of their experiences.
Act as a social buffer if you can.
Try attending community events with your loved one or helping them plan their social calendar. If you’re more extroverted than your loved one, you may be especially helpful in facilitating social connections.
Encourage other family members to reach out and visit often.
You can also serve as a point of contact and communication for updates on the move. Try sending out emails or texts to keep everyone in the loop and encourage people to schedule a time to drop by.
Recognize that it’s also normal for you to have mixed emotions about your loved one’s transition to senior living.
You might feel exhausted by the move itself, worry about whether this is the right decision, or even feel guilty. Maybe you feel relieved because you no longer have to offer so much support. Or perhaps you’re worried about whether you’ll be able to help your loved one navigate the transition.
No matter what you feel, it’s the right way to feel. Our emotions are just feelings, not facts. And you, like your loved one, are entitled to the full range of human expression. However, because this is their transition and not yours, it’s important to find healthy ways to manage your own feelings.
Try some of the following strategies:
- Practice good self-care in between visits. Self-care is not selfish; it’s vital to your ability to support your loved one.
- Don’t force your loved one to manage your emotions. As they move into a senior living community, they’re the one facing the most stress. When you need emotional support, turn to people who are less affected—friends or other family—for support.
- Look into support programs for caregivers. You can often find these groups in the community your loved one has moved into.
- Ask questions about how best to support your loved one and what to expect in the coming months. The community team members are experts at helping families get acclimated to community life. They are there for you, so reach out.
- Take breaks. No one can be another person's sole source of physical and emotional support. If you need a nap during the move, a break from a stressful phone conversation, or a few hours to yourself, know that these are reasonable requests.