The decision to move to a retirement home is never an easy one. No set event triggers it an there's no age at which it becomes the obvious choice. The truth is that when we are young, it's something that we hope we never have to do. We would all love to grow old in our own homes, surrounded by our memories and family until the end.
We've all read stories about people who need an attorney for nursing home abuse, or tales of people that struggle to settle in and never feel at home. But, there are also plenty of people who settle well. They adjust to life quickly and find that their physical and mental health improves without the worries of looking after themselves and their home. They can form new friendships, try new hobbies and get a completely new lease of life. For every person that's had a negative experience, there are countless who have gone on to lead a happier and healthier life due to their relocation.
If a relative or friend has decided that the time has come for them to move into a retirement home, then it's important that you do everything you can to ease the transition and help them adjust quickly and painlessly.
Find the Right Home
Not all homes are equal. In fact, some are much better than others. Find one in a great location, so that you can visit easily. Then, make sure they've got all the facilities your relative needs. Make sure they can provide the levels of care needed, but also that they offer day trips outside of the setting, have great grounds that the residents are free to enjoy, and that facility is clean and tidy, the rooms are homely, and the other residents are happy.
Add Some Home Touches
Residents are usually free to make some small changes to their rooms. You might not be able to decorate fully, but you could add your own bedding and furnishings, and well as photographs, artwork, and other decorative touches. Spend time together getting their room just right, to help them to feel safe and at home.
Encourage them to Get Out
Settling in doesn't have to mean spending all of their time there. Encourage them to spend time in the grounds and out on any day trips that are offered. If you are allowed, take them out on trips yourself. Getting plenty of fresh air and exercise like this can help them to feel happy and healthy, but also reminds them that where they sleep doesn't change everything.
Help them Meet People
One of the scariest things about moving to a retirement home is the idea of meeting so many new people. For many of us, the last time we were surrounded by strangers like this was school. It can be daunting.
Help them, by chatting with the other residents yourself. Encourage them to take part in social activities and to try new hobbies with their new friends. Get stuck in yourself and show them that you can have fun with new people. They may soon start to realize that living with so many new friends gives them a chance to enjoy their later years and that they discover new interests and hobbies that they love.
Involve them in Their Care
Another massive worry can be that they'll have no control. If they've always lived in their own home and taken care of themselves, suddenly having less control can be awful. But, it doesn't have to be the case. Sit down with your relative and the home manager and talk about their options. Speak with them about what they want, and how they can keep looking after themselves. Don't make decisions behind their back and make it clear that while staff are there to help them, ultimately, they are still in control of their own lives.
Fight for Them
If you're not happy with their care, or you think that things could be done better, say something. Don't put up with it. If you aren't happy, your relative probably isn't either, but they may be scared to act. Be someone they can confide in and act as their advocate. Do everything you can to help them and be there for them when they need you.
Whatever happens, remember how hard this transition can be. Try to put yourself in their shoes and think about what would make it easier. The most important thing, whether they've just moved in or have been there for years, is that you keep visiting and you keep listening. You could even get them a cell phone if it’s allowed.