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Family Members Are an Important Part of a Resident’s Care Team

When an elder loved one moves into a senior living community, family members are often concerned about how their loved one will deal with their new surroundings. Will they get the care they need? Will they be happy in their new home? What can I do to ensure a successful transition?

Research shows that family involvement helps increase a resident’s overall well-being in any senior living setting. Most senior care communities welcome a family’s participation, because they understand it’s a key element in helping them stay healthy and engaged in life.

Here a just a few ways family members can work with staff and other health providers to ensure their loved one is getting the care they need to thrive.

Plan ahead before an emergency arises
Before circumstances require an emergency move, talk to your loved one about their plans should they need long-term care. Accompany them to tour local facilities. Let them know they have a choice of where they want to live if they plan ahead. When visiting different facilities, keep an upbeat attitude and praise things that would be beneficial to your loved one’s well-being (e.g., “The library is a perfect place for you to read your favorite novel!”). Once a decision has been made, help them with ideas on how to personalize their new room or apartment (“Susie’s graduation picture would look great here!”) and discuss with the staff what options they have in dining and decorating, if any.

Help them meet fellow residents
Part of the fear of moving to a new place is the fear of not fitting in. Once a loved one has moved into a senior care community, accompany them on moving day and help them meet their new neighbors. You may need to take the lead and introduce yourself; then introduce your loved one and mention that they are new to the community. Feeling part of this new family will go a long way in helping ensure a loved one’s long-term comfort, happiness and health.

Let the staff know of any special needs
Your loved one will fare better in their new environment if the staff is aware of any special needs (diet, exercise, activity preferences) they have. This is particularly true if your loved one is living with dementia. Because a new Memory Care resident may not be able to express their needs and desires, providing a historical background (achievements, careers, hobbies, etc.) of their life gives caregivers a way to connect more meaningfully with your loved one.

Visit often
One of the best things you can do for your loved one is to visit as often as possible. This will provide a needed sense of connection to what they hold most dear. Our community has an active social and activities program and coming for special events, religious services or holiday celebrations are always a good time to connect. You may decide you enjoy the experience so much, you may want to become a volunteer! When you visit, be sure and listen to any concerns your loved one is having and work with staff to find a solution. Our staff is always available to you and eager to make your loved one as comfortable as possible.

Long-distance caregiving
What can you do if you don’t live nearby? Long-distance caregiving makes staying in touch a bit more challenging, but you can still be an integral part of your loved one’s care team. Here are some ways to keep in touch from a distance:

  • Call often, and encourage your loved one to call you.
  • If they express concerns – or even if they’re lonely or depressed – contact the staff to discuss ways to resolve the issue.
  • Set your loved one up with a simple email program if they aren’t already online.
  • Use a webcam or Skype for “virtual visits” – this can often reveal things that a regular phone call can’t.
  • Help your loved one create a Facebook page, or set up a family blog.
  • Visit as often as possible.

With a little care and attention, your elder loved one can thrive in a senior living setting. The greater your involvement, the better they are likely to do.

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