Adjusting to Assisted Living
Many people struggle with the idea of leaving their home. A home with space and memories is a big thing to give up. Going into assisted living means admitting additional help is needed. When people move, the loss of their homes is often a source of grief. People tend to point their fingers at the children, doctors, caregivers, etc. for a need to move to a space with more help. The decision is very difficult for everyone involved.
People may enter assisted living communities for a variety of reasons. Essentially though, a person who is no longer safe to live alone or with their spouse, is likely more suited in an assisted environment. Every family and support system have their limits of how much they can handle at home. Some families are more medically trained or live nearby. These families are likely more equipped to care for their loved ones at home longer. Some families have more limitations that restrict their ability to care for their loved ones at home.
As a therapist, I have encountered many people with many struggles in adjusting to a new community. Many of people go through a grieving process. Others are angry and blame their families, thinking they should have done more. Many are anxious as their routines are interrupted. However, most people do very well after they adjust. Assisted living provides 24-hour assistance for activities of daily living. There are many fears that can be eliminated as the reassurance of having help and supervision are available, such as: the fear of falling if your legs aren’t as steady when you stand up, the fear of showering alone and falling in the shower, the loneliness of living alone is gone. Residents can have as much privacy or socialize as much as they want. There are outings, activities, and peers in very similar positions. Once people adjust, they often are relieved of barriers that are holding them back at home.
One of the most beneficial aspects of assisted living is how relationships are preserved. When a person’s family members are their caregivers, the dynamics of the relationship change drastically. Children forego their roles as children to become more of a parent figure. They bathe their parents, struggle with them to give medications, clean their homes, worry constantly about a fall, etc. When an assisted living is providing the basic needs for a person, families can go back to spending quality time together. Assisted living can be a difficult decision and a hard transition, but often times preserves families and are a great transition before needing long term care.