Every day hundreds of citizens move into senior communities that offer active social lives, a staff of caregivers, and 24-hour security. Although the transition can offer a much better quality of life, residents may feel isolated from their families. Fortunately, there are steps relatives can take to ensure parents and grandparents living in senior communities feel included and stay in touch with loved ones. Staying in touch with communities also allows relatives to monitor seniors’ well-being.
Become Familiar with the Staff
As soon as families choose an assisted living community, they should get to know the staff. Learn the name of everyone involved in a relative’s care and understand their roles and responsibilities.
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care recommends that families become familiar with the community administrator, Director of Social Services, and Director of Dietary Services. Make sure to introduce yourself to the dedicated caregivers, since they provide residents with hands-on care, and develop a relationship with them.
Ensure One Family Member Is a Liaison
Families feel better knowing how their parents or grandparents are doing in their community, but it’s not practical for several relatives to call and get updates. AARP suggests appointing one family member as a liaison.
That person becomes a point of contact between their family and a community for seniors. A liaison can call regularly and ask about specific concerns. For example, they might ask whether a relative is:
- Getting needed assistance to walk around.
- Eating all their meals.
- Participating in activities (Calls are an excellent time to determine available activities.)
There may be fewer concerns if residents have moved to an independent living community. But if relatives need help with everyday activities, have health issues, or are suffering from dementia, family involvement can be crucial.
Visit In Person When Possible
It isn’t always easy to visit a family member in a senior community, especially if relatives do not live nearby. But, in-person visits have benefits, and even dropping in occasionally can brighten parents’ or grandparents’ spirits.
Interacting with families is good for seniors’ mental health and well-being, especially those receiving memory care services. Socialization provides strong mental stimulation as well as quality time with loved ones.
Communities include large public meeting spaces, which are ideal for family gatherings. If possible, arrange for routine family visits that allow everyone to catch up, play games, and enjoy one another’s company.
Visits allow family members to speak with staff and get their thoughts on seniors’ care plans and overall outlook. Caregivers and other staff are happy to communicate with families but are also incredibly busy. It is important to respect their time by avoiding small talk or interfering with their duties.
Visits don’t have to be extended to benefit residents. A one or two-hour visit can cheer them up and gives relatives a chance to ensure high-quality care. If visitors stay too long, they can become nuisances who disrupt the staff’s schedule. Family members maintain positive, friendly relationships by respecting staff members’ responsibilities.
Use Communication Tools to Stay in Touch
Of course, it’s not always possible to visit seniors in person, but today’s technology offers solutions. Families can use computers, tablets, and phones to contact parents and grandparents. Devices are designed to be user-friendly. Many seniors enjoy learning how to use them, especially when it allows them to speak with loved ones.
With the touch of a button, residents can arrange a call via apps like Zoom. Families can arrange a call with several members at one time. Seniors may also phone or text, which is a convenient way to reach out daily.
Include Seniors in Family Events
Ensure that relatives living in senior communities are still part of family events. Include them in graduation, wedding, and birthday celebrations via video conferencing. Take the time to call or visit, if possible. Stay in contact during the holidays, which can be depressing for those who feel alone.
Don’t forget letter writing- not all seniors are comfortable with technology. Many grew up writing letters and still welcome them. Getting a letter can make someone’s day, especially when feeling lonely.
Senior communities offer residents security, caregiving, and the chance for a social life, but residents still need to feel part of their families. Relatives can help support seniors by getting to know community staff members, visiting when possible, and reaching out in other ways. It’s also crucial for one family member to routinely contact community staff and check on their senior relative.
Ocean Hills Senior Living is an Oceanside, CA, community offering independent, assisted living, and memory care options. Located in a beautiful area, the community is committed to whole-person living and health.