Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Starting a New Life in a Retirement Community

I have flashbacks to when my kids entered kindergarten.  Their reluctance and anxiety had shown on their faces.  I had hoped my expression exhibited excitement rather than the trepidations  I was experiencing at the moment.
How would this new adventure play out, I wondered?  Would they make friends?  What if they were bullied?  Would they fit in?  Were they ready for the new challenges?
Those days are long gone.  
Now, unexpectedly, similar sensations are creeping into my head.  Mom is settling into a new retirement community.  I am witnessing her sadness at leaving the comfort and familiarity of her home of 40 years and her discomfort of trying to fit into a new situation.
Someone told her it would take 3 months to feel at home.  I hope that isn't so. I don't think I can last that long! 


Bear Naked said...

Hopefully your Mother will soon get accustomed to this new destination in her life.
I am sure once she starts to bond with like minded people she will feel that she has indeed *arrived.*

Bear((( )))

Susie said...

I understand exactly how you are feeling...I just moved my Mom to Portland to be near me. She is getting settled in a retirement community but also has mild dementia, so I am "on" with her most of the time. I'm tired already. She is reluctant to get involved or even make her own way to the dining hall without my assistance. I am hoping for some more independence on her part real soon!

Ms. 50something said...

Hi Susie,
Here are a few tips that might help (they were great for me!):
1. Find out who the new residents are.
Make a cute invitation community-wide ("I'm new here and I'd like to meet you" and state your mom's hobbies, etc.).
Put the invitation at the entrance and near all the mailboxes (is there a bulletin board?)
Send special invitations to new people (put it in their mailboxes); they're most likely to be looking for friendships.
Set up refreshments in a public area.
2. Go to meals with her and hook up with different people (see who she likes and try to fit into their schedules so she has friendly faces to dine with).
3. Take her out with 1 or 2 friends (she can show you off and bond with the people).
4. Make sure her apartment feels like home--hang pictures, photos, etc.--and that it's easy to remember where she places things
5. Get help from the administration to get her into social settings.
6. Ask the dining hall personnel to suggest dining partners.
The more you put into this period of her life, the easier it will be for you.
Hope this helps. Good luck!