Looking back at the major milestones in life, the move into that first apartment or house likely ranked high as one of those memorable events. There was the thrill of new beginnings. Fast-forward five or six decades, and the transition into an assisted living or memory care community is accompanied by an entirely different range of emotions.
No matter the impetus behind the decision, moving into an assisted living or memory care community is a huge change for anyone. People often feel apprehensive, nervous and scared. This new chapter in their lives is greeted with uncertainty. These uneasy feelings can be attributed to a number of things. It could be the overwhelming emotion of leaving a home forever. Or the preconceived notions a person has about assisted living or memory care communities. There is the loss of independence. The list goes on and on.
The good news is that these beliefs are quickly put to rest once new residents become acclimated to their new community, according to Mercedes Andrus, Chief Operating Officer of Premier Senior Living, LLC. Having spent more than two and a half decades working in assisted living, Andrus explains that people often expect the worst but are relieved to find their prejudgments were completely off base. In fact, their quality of life improves when they are no longer weighed down by the daily activities that have become a burden.
“As soon as they begin to settle in, there is a sense of relief,” says Andrus. “They realize they don’t need to struggle with the basics such as cooking, cleaning and doing laundry. Instead, they can enjoy a carefree lifestyle where those things are taken care of and then can concentrate on making new friends and starting new routines.”
Although Premier Senior Living, LLC has assisted living and memory care communities in New York, Ohio and Florida, there is a common thread among every location – a hospitable environment chock-full of all the comforts of home with a senior social scene that is second to none.
At Premier Senior Living, LLC’s Summit at New Port Richey and Summit at Venice in Florida, the staff takes pride in making all residents feel at home. Andrus points out that they have a number of procedures and protocols in place so that new residents adjust to their surroundings without experiencing any growing pains.
“We do this by ensuring that new staff members take time to personally introduce themselves to every new resident and explain what they do and how they can help them. We also carefully choose seating in the dining room with other residents who have things in common with the new residents. We go out of the way to personally invite new residents to participate in all of our activities.”
Ironically, it is often the family members who have a more difficult time with the transition. While the resident himself or herself adjusts to moving forward, loved ones are often stuck in the past. Andrus is far too familiar with hearing recollections of Mom or Dad living in the same house for 50 years. Experts suggest allowing a period of adjustment, where family members keep a physical distance from a few days to a week.
Premier Senior Living, LLC does its part to make residents feel at home. However, it is important that family members also put forth the effort. One of the biggest challenges families face is staying connected to loved ones when they move into an assisted living or memory care community. Thankfully, technology has made it easier to remain up close and personal with family members near or far. Couple that with the busy social calendar offered by assisted living and memory care communities, and there are plenty of ways that families can stay involved.
Research shows that having a strong social network in place actually benefits the elderly as much as physical activity. A study that appears in the Annals of Family Medicine studied 193 seniors showing symptoms of depression. The subjects were given either physical activity or social visits for six months in a row. Researchers found social interaction had the same benefits as regular exercise. Experts concluded that: “social participation and social support networks are paramount to long-term positive outcomes and psychological well-being for older people.”
Here are five ways to stay connected with loved ones in assisted living or memory care communities.
- Call often – Reach out and touch someone. Whether you’re around the corner or in another state, sometimes there is nothing more soothing than the sound of a loved one’s voice. Set up regular times with your loved one when you can catch up. It doesn’t matter if it’s daily or weekly; a little phone time goes a long way.
- Skype or video chat – The next-best thing to being right there, video chat allows loved ones to see each other. No matter the proximity, loved ones are just a click away.
- Send care packages – Who doesn’t like receiving a care package? Stock it with home-baked goodies (that keep in mind any dietary restrictions), crossword puzzles, lotions, books, family photos and other items of interest.
- Participate in on-site activities – Most communities plan activities well in advance and promote them through social media. Premier Senior Living, LLC publishes all calendars on its website: pslgroupllc.com. It is a great way to stay up on special events. There is no greater way to show you want to be a part of a loved one’s new life than participating in parties and entertainment with that person.
- Recruit other friends and family to visit – If you’re going out of town or are unable to make a visit, find someone to go in your place. Having someone fill in while you’re gone will make your absence more bearable.
When a loved one is in an assisted living or memory care community, these small acts of kindness will go far in keeping you connected. If you want to learn more about memory care and assisted living communities in New York, Florida and Ohio and the activities they have to offer, please contact us at 1-800-380-8909 for more information or to schedule a tour.