If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that change can be hard to adjust to — no matter what life stage we’re in. When your world becomes a little smaller and your surroundings and routine change, it can be hard to come to terms with at first. But, over time, you start to adjust to your ‘new normal’ and enjoy many aspects of it.
This can be especially true of seniors who are transitioning into living in an aged care facility. Whether it’s reduced mobility or health issues, there are many reasons for seniors to move from their home. While with the right residential village, this can be a positive change, it can understandably be met with some initial resistance. Seniors may feel displaced, or like they are losing some of their control or independence.
But with the right approach, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some tips to help a loved one settle happily and comfortably into this vibrant chapter of their life.
Communicate with them
Be sure to include them in your conversations about their living scenario from the get-go. Ask them what it is that’s important to them. Perhaps they would like to live somewhere with lots of social activities, or somewhere with a nice garden, lovely interiors or great food.
Then, you can involve them in your research process as you narrow down your options, whether that’s gathering brochures or sitting down for a Google session together. Then, when you go to tour some aged care villages, be sure to consult them on their opinion, what they liked and disliked about them. The more you involve them in the process, the smoother the transition will be.
Highlight the positives
There are so many wonderful things about aged care living that you just don’t get in everyday life! With so many activities on offer and other people around, many seniors find they have a much more thriving social life than they did previously.
Plus, they no longer have to worry about menial things like cooking, cleaning and doing the washing. They get to enjoy their life, which is likely what they’ve worked so hard for all these years!
Bring home with them
Moving out of their previous home can be tough for older people, especially if they have lived there for decades. They may feel very attached to their home and the memories made there. But, just because they’re moving, doesn’t mean they can’t bring a piece of home with them.
Assist your loved one in getting together some sentimental items that they can bring with them. This might include a favourite pillow, some photo frames, or even some old books that smell like their previous home. By having these mementoes at the ready, your loved one can make their new home feel a little more like their old home.
Emphasise their individuality
It’s of utmost importance that your relative feels that they have autonomy over their own life. So much so that our philosophy at Scalabrini is Sono Io (Italian for ‘This is me’), which is all about recognising and respecting each resident for who they truly are.
Be sure to communicate to your loved one that just because they are moving, doesn’t mean they’ll lose their individualism.
In fact, quite the opposite! By asking the right questions and paying attention, our staff spend time getting to know each resident — their likes and dislikes, their history, their story, their personality, their interests and their preferences. So, your loved one will feel cherished and respected.
Encourage them to get involved
The more involved your loved one gets in everyday life at their retirement village, the more enjoyable it’s going to be for them. So, encourage them to take advantage of all that is on offer! Whether it’s striking up a chat at the dinner table, getting out for some gardening or challenging a new friend to a game of cards, there are so many great opportunities for socialising. Be sure to ask with curiosity about the lovely new people they’re meeting, as this will further encourage them to pursue friendships.
Moving into an aged care village doesn’t have to be a sad or scary time for your relative. With your encouragement and support, they can embrace and thrive in their new surroundings.