Change is never easy but moving from home to senior living is likely one of the biggest transitions you or your loved one will make. Aside from the logistical challenges of downsizing and making the move, there’s the emotion and fear of the unknown that also comes with it. Some of the most common fears for seniors are losing their independence, having to depend on strangers, being isolated and being lonely. Unfortunately, these fears can prove to be very real challenges for some when moving to a large senior living community. Here’s what you can do.
Traditional Senior Living versus Boutique Senior Living
Large, traditional senior living communities aren’t the only option. There is an alternative known as boutique senior living. Here’s how they compare.
In a traditional senior living community, your options may include assisted living which offers housing, onsite care and support with daily activities; and memory care which offers specialized care for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Often, both types of care are offered on one large campus.
Boutique senior living offers care in a residential setting. You may not be familiar with it, but the concept is gaining in popularity for blending the comfort of home with the care and amenities of senior living. We are licensed for both assisted living and memory care in our homes as well.
Understanding the Challenges
Often the challenges seniors face when transitioning to senior living have to do with the size of the community. It’s easy to get lost in a crowd right?
At home, you or your loved one set your own routine. In senior living, particularly large communities, you must accommodate their daily schedule. Perhaps you enjoyed reading in your courtyard in the morning but that area of the community is occupied with other events until afternoon. Or maybe you enjoy a late night snack, but all dining options close after dinner. Whatever the case may be, the adjustment can be difficult. In boutique senior living our homes are at least 4,000 square feet but only have up to 16 residents so you’re not competing with a crowd and have plenty of space to do your own thing.
It’s equally difficult to go from a familiar, cozy home to the institutional feel of a large campus with multiple buildings to navigate between and/or high-rise structures. Not to mention 100s of new ‘neighbors’ in some cases! It can be overwhelming and some just never get completely used to it. On the other hand, boutique senior living allows you or your loved one to remain in a residential home located in a charming neighborhood in the heart of a vibrant yet small Midwestern town. Instead of following the signs to the dining area you simply walk down the hall to enjoy family-style meals on a handmade farm table with a small, familiar group of residents and caregivers. Family is always welcome too!
In some large senior living communities, one associate could be charged with caring for up to 20 residents at a given time which limits the amount of personal attention your or your loved one will receive. On the other hand, in our boutique senior living homes, the caregiver to resident ratio is 1 to 5 which means you’ll have personalized care 24/7 by caregivers who really ‘know’ you as well as your unique needs and preferences. Plus, you can rest assured that doctors also visit our homes regularly and a nurse oversees the daily plan of care implemented by our experienced CNAs and caregivers to ensure quality.
We’ve all been the new kid at one point in time, and it’s hard! Even more so in a large senior living community if you aren’t an extroverted personality. Staffing comes in to play here too as when associates are stretched thin they have less time to encourage participation and help you or your loved one plug in with other residents. We find that our residents thrive in the smaller setting of boutique senior living. They are more comfortable and may actually take advantage of even more of the amenities and activities than they may have otherwise! But the smaller setting doesn’t mean they miss out, like large communities our activity programs also feature daily exercises, socialization, cognitive stimulation and immersive activities as well as group outings and live entertainment.
Regardless of the setting, it’s understandable that you or your loved one might feel a little lost initially. That’s why it’s so important to give yourself some time. With a change this big, acclimating won’t happen overnight and that’s ok! You could also get a head start –if you have time before the move – and make a point to familiarize yourself with the community by visiting a couple of times to enjoy a meal or even participate in activities. That way you get to know the staff and maybe some neighbors before the move to ease into the transition.
What’s more, you can also talk to the staff to ask if they have a buddy system that pairs newcomers with a resident who has similar interests to show you around, or simply what tips they could offer for connecting with residents and activities. And don’t forget the power of positive thinking to help you cope with stress. You or your loved one chose the senior living community for a reason – focus on those benefits!