We recently moved my mother to an assisted living community after several years of struggling to keep her safe in her own home. I thought we could count on friends and family to visit her there. But she has had surprisingly few visitors since she moved in. What can we do to encourage people to visit? -Sharon
The transition to assisted living often takes a few months for residents, as well as for their families. People may be reluctant to visit for a variety of reasons and I suspect one might be fear. Many people think assisted living is just a fancy name for a nursing home and there are still many outdated, negative stereotypes about nursing homes.
I would recommend a few quick ideas to help friends and family overcome their initial fears and encourage family visits:
• Host a House Warming party for her. It will be a chance for her to show off her new home. Some of the staff will probably be willing to provide tours for guests. You might want to consider reserving additional space at the community to serve refreshments. The dining staff may even be able to help coordinate food.
• Get family members involved in the community in other ways. For example, encourage one of your children or your sibling’s children to volunteer to teach residents how to use an iPad or how to Skype with their loved ones. If a family friend plays the piano or another instrument, they may be willing to donate their time to play for residents.
• Invite friends and family for lunch or dinner. Check the menu at the community and time your invitation to coordinate with a loved one’s favorite foods. Or, in some assisted living homes there are private dining rooms available to reserve for family functions.
• Include loved ones in activities and events. The Bristal communities have an abundance of daily life enrichment activities. Encourage your mom to invite her friends to play cards on game day or to join her for a resident outing.
If you can help friends and loved ones see how enjoyable life at an assisted living community is they will be more comfortable visiting on a regular basis.