3 Myths About Making the Transition to Assisted Living
Helping residents make the transition to assisted living can be a big challenge because there are many misconceptions about the process.
As every nursing care and assisted living facility owner knows, there are a lot of misconceptions about assisted living and senior care. Unfortunately, these myths can often be challenging for new residents and their families to overcome when they make the transition to assisted living. Fear of the unknown has the power to cause a lot of extra stress and anxiety, especially for those who are elderly or experiencing health challenges. Debunking some of the myths can help families feel more at ease when they help a loved one move into your facility.
Adjusting to life in a senior living home is a big challenge for the elderly. As the owner or manager of a facility, your top priority is to ease the transition for all those involved, including the resident and his or her family. The fact of the matter is that change is difficult, especially for elderly patients who are facing fears about their health, independence, and adjustment to a new lifestyle.
With the right approach, the move into the new phase of life can be an exciting and even hopeful moment for new residents. There are many positives that come along with assisted living including better access to care, less isolation, and even new friends. If your facility offers enriching activities and a home-like environment, seniors and their families will instantly feel more at ease.
There are many options in senior care. According to a study from Senior Living, those looking for post-retirement housing and assisted living have over 5,000 different options available including nursing facilities and specialized retirement communities. To provide the best care and draw in new residents, it’s important to offer an assisted living facility with a warm environment, caring staff, and accommodations to help allay family concerns during the transition to assisted living.
Here are three of the most common myths about the transition to assisted living so you can address the worries of incoming residents and their families.
3 Myths About the Transition to Assisted Living
1. Senior Living Means Saying Goodbye to Friends and Family
The Myth: The transition to assisted living means saying goodbye to all your friends and family.
Unfortunately, senior living facilities are often portrayed somewhere in between hospitals and prisons (especially in the media), where visiting hours are severely limited. This inaccurate portrayal shines a negative light on the retirement process and causes elders to feel wary of the transition to assisted living homes.
This negative stereotype showcases senior care center visits as uncomfortable, with cramped rooms, hard chairs, and no privacy whatsoever. There are visions of harsh staff, rigid rules, and patient needs that are overlooked.
Of course, in this type of environment, visitors would feel unwelcome. So as the misconception goes, visits will trickle down and then eventually dry up as kids and grandkids fear the facility, leaving the resident sad and alone. This common myth makes families hesitant to start the transition to assisted living for their loved one.
IT’S A MYTH!
The Truth: When a resident makes the transition to assisted living, they often experience an increased social life, less isolation, and deeper connections.
As most assisted living facility owners can attest, today’s senior care centers are fun and active communities that welcome outside visitors of all kinds! It’s important to highlight the social aspect of your facility, including introducing prospective families to other residents, sharing the social schedule, and ensuring that new seniors feel welcome by their friends and neighbors.
The senior housing market is growing, and the face of aging is changing. Today’s seniors are more active and outgoing. This will only continue as the Baby Boomer generation ages into their senior years as well. Seniors today want vibrant social lives, even after their transition to assisted living. Many seek facilities with common rooms where they can host visitors, birthday parties, and other festivities.
Today’s seniors want rooms and suites that feel homey and inviting. They’re seeking spaces that feel less like hospital rooms and more like hotel rooms. They want visitors to feel welcome any time of the week and comfortable in the environment they’re in. It’s important to keep these aspects in mind as you design the space at your assisted living facility.
2. Assisted Living Means Giving Up Hobbies and Interests
The Myth: When seniors transition to assisted living, their favorite hobbies and interests no longer matter anymore.
When residents arrive with a lifetime of hobbies and interests, it’s important to celebrate these wonderful talents. Many seniors fear they’ll lose their passion or be forced to give up pets, exercise, gardening, and other important endeavors when they make the transition to assisted living.
There’s a common misconception that facility staff is only there to ensure the most basic needs of residents are addressed. The sad portrait of seniors gathered around a single TV in a crowded common room paints a picture that doesn’t appeal to today’s senior resident.
There’s also a myth that the only activities offered at senior living centers are old beat up chessboards, puzzles with missing pieces, and boring craft classes. Seniors may feel like it’s grade school all over again. Of course, no one wants to make the transition to assisted living and give up the activities that inspire them.
IT’S A MYTH!
The Truth: Seniors who transition to assisted living communities will find ALL types of personal hobbies and interests are highly encouraged and nurtured.
It’s important to highlight the way your senior living facility will help residents embrace their passions! This includes offering a wide variety of activities geared toward many different aptitudes and preferences. Fortunately, many facilities now know that residents who are engaged in creative activities live happier, longer, and healthier lives.
Activities like yoga, gardening, cooking, and more keep seniors active and excited about the transition to assisted living. Offering out-of-the-ordinary activities like holistic health and wellness classes, intergenerational programs, and even therapy animals and pets can keep senior residents engaged and satisfied.
Helping today’s seniors through the transition to assisted living means catering to the individual passions of your residents. Many seniors may even be interested in sharing their talents, teaching classes, or working on hobbies in groups. Since they have valuable knowledge and insight to offer on many topics, it’s wonderful to involve residents in the programming decisions. Your facility may even wish to partner with nearby schools and other organizations to help seniors connect with their community. These activities and interactions often allow other people the unique opportunity to learn from someone with a lifetime of experience.
3. Care Centers Mean Saying Goodbye to Independence
The Myth: Deciding to finally make the transition to assisted living is like agreeing to life in the military.
This myth paints the picture for families that staff members tell residents when to get up, when to eat and when to sleep. The idea that residents have no say in their lives anymore once in a senior community is a huge falsity.
Many elderly individuals may believe the transition to assisted living means watching your savings account drain away while nobody comes to rescue you from a terribly forced routine. The best years of life which should be spent traveling, enjoying family, and exploring retirement are instead spent locked away in a small room full of medical equipment and medications.
For seniors that value their independence, nothing could be more terrifying. This is an especially common myth for those who have undergone a health event and may be adjusting to physical or mental restrictions and disabilities. All of the struggle during years of hard work matters little if you end up handing over your autonomy.
IT’S A MYTH!
The Truth: Modern senior care facilities try to stay out of the residents’ lives as much as possible, only interceding when necessary or if requested to do so.
As senior living center owners know, modern senior care now embraces autonomy and encourages independent living for residents. As residents make the transition to assisted living care, they’re fully able to embrace a personal routine and create a schedule of social activities that work best for them.
Most modern facilities are structured more like apartments rather than hospitals, with private entrances and living spaces. These spaces may even be controlled by the resident alone and only entered by staff with the proper permissions or in an emergency. Facilities are often run more like mini-communities where seniors may shop at an on-site gift shop, get their nails or hair styled, and even enjoy lunch at a café, without needing to drive.
While the fear of losing independence is certainly a cause for concerns among seniors, even residents with significant care needs still maintain relative independence. Modern technology keeps caregivers in the know about a resident’s condition without requiring constant monitoring and check-ins. They can provide real-time updates to all concerned parties and still let a resident lead an independent life.
Busting Myths About Senior Living Once and For All
Several myths surround the idea of what the transition to assisted living facilities entails. Often these myths prey upon the fears of lifestyle changes residents will supposedly need to endure. Not only does this misinformation cause concern for seniors looking to embark on the next chapter of their lives, but it may prevent them from making the transition to assisted living until they experience an injury or health crisis.
The biggest concerns that facility owners must be sensitive to are isolation, loss of independence, and the feeling that residents may have to let go of their hobbies and passions. Working to make your facility a nurturing and social environment, where seniors have plenty of options and control over their choices, will ease the transition to assisted living and the stress on seniors and families.
Just as seniors are changing, so are the requirements of assisted living. Modern facilities should provide seniors with plenty of options, independence, and autonomy. Welcome visitors to your facility and embrace the individuality and personality of residents. Connect with your local community for programming, so seniors can connect with the greater community-at-large.
No matter our age or where we live, we can all discover new passions, contribute to the world around us, and enjoy our lives. Help residents and their families bust the common myths about the transition to assisted living so they feel excited about their bright new future!
Images from “Last Station Nursing Home” courtesy of Flickr user Ulrich Joho licensed under CC by 2.0.
Featured image “It’s all about Love” courtesy of Flickr user Candida Performa licensed under CC by 2.0.