Change is difficult for anyone, but it’s especially difficult for seniors who’ve lived in the same home for many years. If your parent hasn’t ever visited an assisted living community, they may be worried they will be bored and there won’t be anything for them to do but sit around and watch TV.
Engaging the Brain
Being intellectually engaged benefits the brain. For example, one study found that older adults who learned quilting or digital photography had more memory improvement than those who only socialized or did less cognitively demanding activities.
It’s likely that your parent has been encouraged by their doctor to engage their brain and learn new things. They might not know that assisted living staff are trained to enhance the quality of life of residents by creating an engaging, stimulating environment that benefits the mind, body, and soul of the residents and promote a lifestyle of health and wellness with programs that benefit brain health, physical fitness, and more.
“There are so many activities offered here that I haven’t even tried some of them,” says Helen, who lives at The Arbors at Dracut. “My children always say: ‘When you want to talk to mom, you have to make an appointment. She’s always busy.’”
There is no typical day at an assisted living community, but the goal every day is to enhance residents’ minds, bodies, and spirits by creating a mentally, physically, and spiritually stimulating environment.
“I’m happy that my mom is there,” says Paula, whose 92-year-old mom recently moved into assisted living at The Arbors at Chicopee. “Instead of being isolated in her condo, she’s enjoying all sorts of activities and friendships. I love going there and seeing her.”
Adds Paula’s sister, Carol: “[My mom’s] having a second adulthood. She’s much happier. She’s more social. She has a gaggle of women who she talks about. It’s like she’s in high school. It’s a reversal. Rather than a depressing end of life, she’s having a good time. It really made a change. It made things better.”
Some assisted living communities provide transportation to and from scheduled activities, such as concerts, theater, or bowling, and communities usually offer opportunities for seasonal events, such as visiting a pumpkin farm or watching a Christmas parade.
If your parent prefers to stay home, they can enjoy their residence or wander out to the garden, take a walk, get a haircut, or visit the media room. Most assisted living communities offer community areas, such as libraries, living rooms, beauty salons, outdoor porches, and gardens, where residents, family, and guests may gather to socialize.
Handling the Objection
If your parent objects to assisted living by saying, “I won’t know what to do,” share with them how assisted living communities provide plenty of chances for lifelong learning, from computer classes to book clubs to trivia challenges. Many facilities even offer guest lectures from visiting scholars and professionals.
Try saying something like, “Assisted living communities are designed to help older adults stay young at heart and get back to enjoying a social and healthy life. Have you seen the activities calendar? Let’s go visit during an activity that sounds fun to you so you can see with your own eyes what it’s all about.”
Remind them that staff members at assisted living communities are specially trained to reach out to residents, make them feel at home, and introduce them to new programs and friends. Most communities offer some sort of recreation program that allows access to events, activities, outings, and transportation.
“They keep us busy all the time,” says Shirley, who lives at The Ivy at Ellington with her husband, Ed. “There’s always something to do. There are events going on all the time. It’s great for my husband, but it’s also great for me. The kids call and say they can’t get ahold of me.”
That’s why many seniors consider moving to a senior living community as an opportunity to reinvent themselves or enjoy hobbies and interests they once did.
As you help your loved one transition to a new stage of life, it helps to be prepared with answers to their questions and concerns. For more insights into common objections and strategies for how to handle them, download our eBook The Standoff: Coping with a Parent’s Objections to Assisted Living.