When a senior needs to make the transition to assisted living it can be a trying time for the individual and their family.  When faced with reality of moving into a senior community, many residents grapple with not only the stress of moving, but also with a variety of emotions including sadness over losing their independence, especially if the decision wasn’t theirs.

The transition into assisted living can be necessary for a number of reasons: the result of a serious health episode, the loss of a spouse who was the primary caregiver, or a decline in physical or mental health.  As an integral part of your community’s staff, here are a few points to keep in mind about residents who are moving into senior care:

  • They are coming to terms with the decline in their independence
  • They fear losing personal control
  • They are giving up their home
  • They may feel like they’re losing attachment with family and community
  • They may be nervous about making new friends

Why is a smooth transition to assisted living important? A rocky transition experience can have the potential for poor health outcomes for the resident, while a smooth transition can reduce trauma for the resident, as well as increase the positive feelings that family members have about your facility’s staff and services.

It can take between 30 to 90 days for senior residents to adjust to their new home and surroundings.  In that crucial period, here are some things your assisted living staff can focus on to help make new residents feel welcome, comfortable, and, ultimately, reduce the stress and anxiety the residents may be feeling.

  • Get to know new residents beforehand.  Talk with them and their families to know their hobbies and interests. This will help you match the resident with activities and other residents who share their same interests.
  • Coordinate a new resident orientation where seniors and their families can meet with your staff members and learn the different roles within the facility.
  • Create personal encounters with new residents every day to help them feel important.  Complimenting a family photo or personal belonging can go a long way to bringing a resident out of their shell.
  • Promote independence by letting them make their own decisions whenever possible.  Be patient and compassionate if they struggle through a task and let them do as many things on their own as they safely can.
  • Encourage socialization when the resident seems ready.  It’s understandable for someone new to be shy or withdrawn for the first few days.  But when they express interest in meeting other residents or taking part in activities, introduce them or escort them to an event.  Meeting new people is always easier when someone is by your side.

Help your staff minimize new resident transfer trauma.  SLU offers an assortment of DVDs and in-services to train your employees on the delicate new resident move-in process.