Encouraging Parents to Socialize After the Move to Senior Living
Moving to senior living is often a difficult transition for aging loved ones. Even elders who are on board with the decision to relocate to an independent living community, assisted living community, memory care community or skilled nursing facility are likely to encounter some obstacles when trying to become more familiar with their new living environment and neighbors. The whole experience can be overwhelming, and many seniors initially react by withdrawing into their new room or apartment instead of making friends and joining in activities.
This can be frustrating and heartbreaking for family caregivers who are looking on from the outside, wishing their parents would take advantage of all the opportunities a new home has to offer. This transition often takes time, but there are some ways to encourage a loved one to socialize and get involved.
A Caregiver’s Experience Encouraging Parents to Socialize in Senior Living
For most of my parents’ marriage, Mom was a social butterfly, while Dad was quieter and more introverted. He was capable of handling social situations but attended group events mainly to please Mom. Then, overnight, our family’s world turned upside down. Dad needed surgery to correct the effects of an old brain injury he’d incurred in World War II.
The procedure backfired, and he came out of the operating room with full-blown dementia. His current living situation was no longer appropriate, so he moved into a nursing home nearby. Three years later, Mom’s own health problems worsened, and she decided to join Dad at the same facility.
In terms of socialization, my parents’ transitions to nursing home life were the exact opposite of what we expected. In his newly demented state, Dad suddenly loved taking part in social activities when he felt up to it. Mom, however, declined all opportunities to socialize. She watched TV, did crossword puzzles and read magazines by herself in her room, and she wouldn’t join in group activities or interact with the other residents. The only time she left her room was to walk down the hall to visit with my father…
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