Great article on challenges that we can all face. Insite Care and Transitions can help if you find yourself in this situation.
- Moving Makes You Tired: We all know how exhausted we are after all the boxes have been loaded and unloaded and you’re sweaty, hot and just want to chill in the new place. But, there is work to be done. Understand that the new resident is experiencing all this ten-fold. It is an emotionally exhausting experience and physically tiring. Give your loved one some space to adjust and recover. A good nap, and sometimes, a good cry work wonders for the soul.
- Don’t Feel Guilty: You’ve made the best decision for your parent or spouse that you can make. Assistance with daily living is not at all uncommon. Relieving the pressure off your loved one and the caregivers by allowing trained professionals to care for him or her in a safe, highly skilled environment is a great option. Don’t doubt yourself or your decision, your loved one will pick up on your insecurity and begin to doubt themselves. You did the best thing you could do, you have nothing to feel guilty about.
- Don’t Hang Around Too Much: Transitions will last from 30-90 days before the new resident is totally comfortable in his or her new home. The thing that inhibits transition the most is a family that monopolizes his or her time too much. We know you want to be there for your parent or spouse and we know you want to be in the know but visiting every day and staying for hours at a time can prohibit the new resident from making friends, participating in activities and getting into a new routine. He or she will plan for hours before your arrival and hesitate to get started with something then have to leave it when you arrive. By all means, visit and check in on your loved one but allow some time and space for them to acclimate on their own. A phone call will suffice many times.
- The Staff Can’t Keep Checking For You: I remember following the school bus on the first day of kindergarten. I was so worried about her being alone in this great big place without knowing where to go or if anyone would help her. I’d sit in the classroom and hold her hand in the halls if I could, but I had to let it go. She made her way just fine and can conquer any new experience with poise and grace. The same goes for your parent or spouse. The transition will happen, you cannot rely on the staff to check in every 15 minutes to be sure Dad’s phone is working or if Mom took her medicine or remembered to put her teeth in. It’s hard when you are accustomed to having daily updates from home health or other providers but you have to trust that the community will be sure all is well and taken care of. The staff simply doesn’t have time with 8-10 other residents, to track down your frequent requests and they can grow resentful. Trust that your loved one is in good hands and follow up, but not as often as you’d like.
- Make a “Get To Know You” List: If possible, make a list of hobbies and interests for your loved one and inform the staff of his or her likes and dislikes. The staff is often busy assisting other residents and it’s helpful for them to be able to find easy conversation starters to get to know your loved one.
- Remember Middle School Orientation: When we were kids, our parents dragged us through the school showing us where the bus dropped us off, where the bathrooms were, where our classrooms were, made sure we shook the teachers hand, and showed us how to use the lock on our lockers. This new move for your senior is very similar. It’s scary and new and they a relying on you to help provide this orientation. Make sure the staff sees you and you meet them, an active family member is the best advocate for the resident. Make sure you show your parent or spouse where the facilities are so they don’t have to be embarrassed to ask or have to learn on their own how to sign up for activities or find the room where they’re held. Most importantly, point out the emergency exits, practice if necessary. Your loved one is one of many in this community and the staff will need help getting everyone out in the event of an emergency.
- Write It Down: As we age, our memory isn’t what it used to be. After you’ve explored the community with your new resident, be sure to leave written materials, notes and maps for him or her to study in case it didn’t all stick the first time, and it never does. Make the rounds frequently when you’re there, introduce yourself and the new resident, get some exercise and get out of their room or apartment by doing so.
- “Can You Hear Me Now?”: That old cell phone service commercial still rings true today. Make sure that if your loved one has a hearing impairment that you’ve made arrangements with either a light or vibration system so he or she can know when someone is knocking on the door, the phone is ringing or alarm is going off. While we’re discussing disabilities, please make sure your loved one is able to operate the lock and key for the door. Many residents with arthritis are unable to grasp and turn the lock or the key so they leave the room open which can lead to a host of problems.
- Promote Independence: You should promote the new resident’s independence as much as possible. Allow him or her to make decisions on what pictures to hang and where, what soap to use, what clothes to wear, when and what he or she wants to eat, what activities to attend and more. This move should be a change of address, not a change of lifestyle.
- Avoid Screen Time: Sounds like something we say to our teenagers, but in all honesty, a TV in the room can prevent the need for the new resident to ever leave the room or apartment. Isolation is a big factor in decline in these communities. Encourage your loved one to socialize and watch the community TV with other residents, friends and neighbors.
- Words Matter: We often hear new residents complain about the way things are done, as they are not as they would have done them. We hear these negative words and translate them into fear…the resident is afraid that he or she will have to give up the way they’ve always done something, and do it in a new way. Please don’t take all complaints to heart. Some complaints of abuse or neglect are absolutely true and should be investigated to the fullest extent. Other complaints can be made out of fear, reassure your loved one that he or she is still in control of the environment, his or her body and his or her choices.
- Poor Planning Creates a Crisis: A poor transition with isolation and withdrawal can lead to poor health outcomes including loss of longevity and cognitive ability. There is a phenomena called Transition Trauma caused by fear of loss of choice and familiarity. It can happen to anyone but if you are well prepared, you can help minimize the risk.
Insite Care and Transitions is available as a resource to you and your loved one through the transition as an extra layer of support. www.insitecare.com 904-903-1979