Adjusting to Long-Term Care

Moving to a long-term care facility can be a difficult emotional adjustment for your loved one to make. But there are some things you can do to help.

Adjusting emotionally to a long-term care facility probably will be difficult for your loved one. After all, living at home in “your own space” is always easier than learning the rules and norms of another place. Additionally, it is often harder to maintain important possessions due to facility regulations. For instance, moving into a long-term care facility often means giving up a beloved pet.

For these reasons, you loved one may feel a range of emotions about the move, including

  • Anger
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Grief
  • Illness

It is important to remember that these emotions are all normal. Help your loved one to understand this and encourage him or her to work through the negative emotions, to “keep” a piece of his or her past living environment, and to adjust to the new location.

You can help your loved one to do these things by being involved in the moving process. Remind your loved one that the new rules are for his or her safety, but that these rules still allow him or her to have a “home,” whether it is an apartment or a bed in a shared room. Find out what is important to your loved one and help him or her find a way to remember or keep these memories, possessions, or people in his or her life. In doing so you may need to be inventive by doing things like

  • Creating a special place, whether it be a bench outside or a decorated wall in your loved one’s room
  • Finding a home for his or her pet with a neighbor or friend that will allow the pet to visit your loved one
  • Helping your loved one to write and/or read letters from family, friends, and neighbors
  • Learning about the new residence with your loved one
  • Taking pictures of important possessions and hanging these in prominent places in the new residence

Most importantly, help your loved one to understand and remember that moving was necessary for his or her safety and health, and that although the new surroundings are different, there are multiple positive aspects of each living environment.

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