One of the main concerns adult children have when a parent moves to assisted living is whether he or she will be alone. The answer is simple: yes, and no!
Assisted living is designed with seniors in mind, so there are many social activities for your parent to participate in. Crafts, exercise programs and entertainment come in a wide variety of choices where socializing is encouraged.
Meals are offered in a dining room, so your parent can share meals with other residents or visiting friends and family; there are also outdoor activities, day trips and transportation to nearby locations, such as restaurants and stores.
The staff is always on hand and will make sure your parents are safe and sound. However, assisted living is not like a nursing home where patients are required to follow a strict routine. Your parents will live in an apartment, not a room, so they won’t be forced to join in with group activities if they don’t want to.
So where does the “no” part come in?
One of the biggest advantages of living in an assisted living campus is privacy! Your parent can cook and eat meals in the private apartment if he or she so chooses, and the same goes for joining in on other activities: it’s an option, not a requirement. The staff will encourage socialization, but it will be up to your parent to decide whether to join in. If your parent treasures time alone, he or she is free to go for walks, stay in and watch television or get out and about alone.
The key takeaway is to remember that assisted living is just that: it allows your parent to maintain some independence while providing the assistance necessary in day-to-day life. Too much loneliness can cause depression, and the staff will keep an eye out for that and address it if they feel it’s becoming a problem.
The nurses and other staff members are specifically trained to work with elderly residents and will monitor your parent’s health and wellbeing without being intrusive. Once they gain your trust, you’ll feel much better about your parent’s new home. You won’t have to worry about whether mom remembered to take medication as prescribed or whether dad is eating healthy meals, and you won’t be anxious about his or her safety.
As long as you call and visit on a regular basis, your parents will most likely thrive in assisted living. Listen carefully to any complaints your parent may voice, and address the issues with management. If you feel your loved one isn’t socializing enough, consider joining him or her for a few hours of craft time or for a meal each week. Help them get comfortable in the new environment, and once your parent makes some new friends and finds new interests, his or her full social calendar may surprise you!