Supporting Your Loved One in Assisted Living

Choosing to move a loved one or parent into assisted living can be a difficult decision. In times of change, life can be tough, or at least that’s how it seems. Often, the initial discussion about assisted living is the biggest moment of uncertainty and the toughest step. It’s best to include your senior in this conversation and stay focused on the topic of their future. We have put together some tips for determining if assisted living is right for your loved one — which you can use to make the process a bit easier. 

However, once the decision is made, you’ll soon find that the move to an assisted living community can be an exciting process. This is an opportunity for your loved one to enjoy a social community built around their needs. With that being said, there’s still plenty that family and friends can do to support loved ones in assisted living. 

Routine Calls & Check-Ins 

Even after the first few weeks, months, or even years, check-in with calls or video chats on a routine basis. Life gets busy – we get it! However, just like with other quality family time like scheduled dinners, game nights, or movie nights, a routine helps to keep consistent communication and builds excitement. 

Perhaps it’s calling on your way home from work or after dinner every other day. Whatever works well for both your schedule and your loved one’s, it’s all about making a routine. You can keep up with what is going on in their life, fill them in on exciting news in your life, or simply let them know you’re always thinking about them. 

Plus, having these routine check-ins will give you both something to look forward to!

Visit Often (If Possible) 

If your loved one lives in an assisted living community and it’s close by, in-person visits have countless benefits. Not only is socialization an incredibly strong form of mental stimulation, but it’s also invaluable quality time from friends and family. 

Now, we understand that not everyone has a loved one in an assisted living community that’s nearby. In that case, scheduling time to visit, whether on a free weekend, with some vacation time, or over the holidays, is highly encouraged. You can also visit in other ways, whether through thoughtful cards, letters — or as we mentioned previously, with phone and video calls. 

While many of us do a great job of keeping in contact with our loved ones during the transitional period, it’s still worth keeping in close contact after moving in. 

*While in-person visits may not be possible in these troubling times, it’s still possible to see loved ones virtually with the help of a smartphone, tablet, or laptop computer. 

Encourage an Active Lifestyle 

Some of the most exciting and beneficial aspects of living in an assisted living community are the activities and social opportunities. If you’ve landed on this article and still haven’t picked out a community, we’ve put together some questions you should ask before moving. We include this because asking questions about which activities a community has can help with encouraging participation after a move. 

A social community has so many benefits for aging loved ones, but sometimes it takes a little nudge in the right direction from friends and family to motivate them to give these activities a try. During your calls or visits, try to ask about their week, what activities they’ve taken part in, and what they may want to branch out and try. Don’t be forceful; it’s all about creating a support system. 

If you’re visiting, see if the community has any family activities that everyone can participate in. Not only will this possibly get a loved one more involved, but it can also give you an idea of what their environment is like overall — and help you ask tailored questions about their daily activities in your routine communication. 

Try to start with common ground, what they like, and what you think they may be interested in. If they love gardening or staying fit, see if the community has a gardening club or fitness classes. If your loved one tends to be competitive, cards are certainly a way to keep that competitive lantern bright. Whatever it is, be patient and supportive. It’s incredibly important that loved ones engage in social activities, as it can do wonders for their physical, emotional, and mental health. 

Keep Them Involved 

It’s important to keep your loved ones involved in special events. Even if they cannot attend in person, a simple phone call to let them know you care and wish they could be there with you. The holiday blues can be a real bummer, especially for aging loved ones who may be missing their family or late-spouses. However, love and communication during these times can make a world of difference. Try to call or visit on special occasions such as:

  • Birthdays
  • Holidays 
  • Family reunions or visits
  • Religious celebrations they recognize
  • Anniversaries
  • Graduations

Don’t wait around for a phone call from them (unless that’s part of your routine). Take the initiative and keep them involved — especially during holidays and celebrations. 

You’re Their Foundation 

There are plenty of ways you can support a loved one in assisted living, most of which are all about keeping in close contact and showing how much you care. Many of these support tips adhere to both assisted living and independent living, as it’s all about communication, love, and encouragement. 

Bonus Tip: Get familiar with the team at the assisted living community. This helps you feel more involved when you visit, but also, if you have any questions or concerns, you can always speak with team members over the phone to better understand how your loved one is doing.