How Long Will It Take My Loved to Adjust to Moving to a Long-term Care Facility?

Each person’s transition to a long-term care facility varies not only from days to weeks but also over the course of months. Several factors can influence this transition period, including the individual’s health status, personal preferences, level of social support, and their ability to adapt to change. 

Initially, in the days following the move, individuals may experience a mix of emotions, ranging from sadness and anxiety to uncertainty about their new surroundings. They may struggle to adjust to the new daily routine and become familiar with their environment. In the weeks that follow, individuals may start to acclimate to their new living situation, establishing routines and becoming more comfortable with the facility’s amenities and social activities. However, challenges may still arise as they continue to navigate this transition. Over the course of months, individuals may experience fluctuations in their emotional well-being as they settle into their new environment. While some may gradually adapt and find a sense of belonging, others may continue to struggle with feelings of loss, loneliness, or anxiety.

Exploring the various aspects of providing support during the transition to a long-term care facility is crucial to helping loved ones adjust. From understanding emotions and offering practical assistance to advocating for their needs and empowering residents, each step contributes to a smoother adjustment process. By addressing these key areas of support, caregivers and family members can play a vital role in helping their loved ones adapt to their new living environment with greater comfort and ease.

Injuries Are Most Likely to Occur Early In Admission

It is during the first days and weeks of living in a new environment that many elderly people are injured at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Nursing staff and other caregivers should be especially concerned about residents during this adjustment period and provide the necessary care and attention residents need. 

Falls are common during this early time as elderly people adjust to new routines and changes in environment. For example, many people may be used to getting up to use the bathroom at a certain time everyday. However, there may not be enough staff working at that time to assist them leading to the person attempting to get up and walk on their own. Or, the new environment itself may present a fall risk. Whether we realize it or not, we become so familiarized to our environments that we act without consciously thinking. We can become so accustomed to standing and turning right to go to the bathroom in the morning, that we don’t realize that in our new room we must turn left, causing a person to fall and be injured. 

Similarly, we may become used to other routines, such as the time we eat or the type of food we eat. The new facility may not have the kinds of food we enjoy or may not provide that kind of food at the times we usually have an appetite. Even a small amount of weight loss can be dangerous for elderly residents. So, staff should be especially vigilant in making sure that residents’ preferences are being met. 

During this early time, residents may become withdrawn and stop eating leading to malnutrition and dehydration. This can create a dangerous cycle of depression and malnutrition. 

For residents with cognitive limitations because of Alzheimer’s, dementia, or brain injuries following a stroke, simple changes in environment may present daily challenges. Things as simple as the position of buttons on a television remote control may cause confusion resulting in a resident not using the remote. Residents are often embarrassed or unable to explain why they are not watching television. These simple changes can result in residents not enjoying activities that bring them joy, such as watching their favorite television programs. 

Staff should be on the lookout for any changes in personality, temperament, eating, or drinking and use compassion and empathy to help residents adjust to their new environment. 

Factors that Affect Adjustment

Transitioning to a long-term care facility marks a significant life change for individuals and their loved ones. It involves several considerations, including physical health, cognitive function, mental well-being, and social support, all of which play important roles in shaping the adjustment process and overall satisfaction within the new living environment. 

Health

The physical health of individuals transitioning to a long-term care facility encompasses a variety of needs that require tailored attention. Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or heart disease, may need ongoing monitoring and management, impacting daily routines and activities. Limited mobility, whether due to age-related decline or physical disabilities, poses challenges in navigating the environment and accessing amenities within the facility. Advanced age can bring a host of medical complexities, from medication management to chronic pain management, which require specialized care from healthcare professionals.

Beyond physical health considerations, cognitive health is a critical aspect that significantly influences the adjustment process. Individuals with dementia or other cognitive impairments face unique challenges in comprehending their new surroundings and routines. Memory loss, confusion, and difficulty processing information can intensify feelings of disorientation and anxiety, requiring additional support and supervision from caregivers and staff members to ensure their safety and well-being. Furthermore, individuals with cognitive impairments may struggle with maintaining personal hygiene or adhering to medication schedules, necessitating personalized care plans to address their specific needs.

In addition to physical and cognitive health, mental well-being is another essential component that impacts the adjustment process. Individuals transitioning to a long-term care facility may experience a range of emotions, including sadness, grief, or anxiety, as they navigate the changes in their living environment and routines. Feelings of loss associated with leaving their familiar surroundings, as well as concerns about the future and uncertainties about their new living arrangements, can contribute to heightened emotional distress. Addressing their emotional needs and providing appropriate mental health support is crucial in promoting their adjustment and overall well-being during this transitional period.

The health status of individuals transitioning to a long-term care facility includes various aspects, including physical, cognitive, and mental well-being, each of which significantly influences the adjustment process. By addressing their specific health needs and offering compassionate support, caregivers and healthcare professionals play a vital role in promoting their overall well-being and adaptation to their new living environment.

Social Support

Social support plays a vital role in the adjustment process of individuals transitioning to a long-term care facility. Beyond the emotional support provided by family members, friends, and caregivers, social interaction within the facility itself is crucial for fostering a sense of belonging and well-being. In addition to regular visits and communication from family and friends, participation in social activities within the facility is essential for promoting emotional well-being. Engaging in group activities such as games, exercise classes, or arts and crafts not only provides opportunities for social interaction but also promotes mental stimulation and emotional engagement. These activities offer a sense of purpose and accomplishment, contributing to a positive sense of self-worth and overall satisfaction with life in the facility.

Forming new friendships with fellow residents is important in reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation. Shared experiences and mutual support create a sense of community and understanding among residents. These relationships provide emotional comfort and companionship, enhancing the overall quality of life for individuals residing in long-term care facilities. Involvement in community events and outings organized by the facility encourages social integration and connection to the broader community. Participating in outings to local attractions or events allows individuals to maintain ties with the outside world and engage in meaningful experiences beyond the facility’s walls. These outings provide opportunities for social interaction with individuals outside the facility, promoting a sense of inclusion and connection to the larger community.

Social support from various sources, including family, friends, caregivers, and fellow residents, as well as engagement in social activities and community events within the facility, is essential for promoting emotional well-being and a sense of belonging in individuals transitioning to a long-term care facility. These social interactions contribute to a smoother adjustment process and enhance the overall quality of life for residents, ultimately promoting their well-being and satisfaction with their new living environment.

How to Help Loved Ones Adjust

Helping a loved one transition to an assisted living facility can be a challenging process, but there are several strategies that can support them during this adjustment period. 

  • Make Regular Visits– Visiting regularly can help them feel connected to their family and other loved ones, providing them with emotional support and reassurance. By prioritizing frequent visits, you can ensure that your loved one does not feel abandoned or forgotten, while also giving them the space they need to adjust to their new living environment.
  • Be PatientPatience is another key aspect of helping a loved one adjust to assisted living. It’s essential to recognize that the adjustment process takes time and may not be smooth. Your loved one may experience frustrations and challenges along the way, and it’s important to offer them patience and understanding during this period of transition. Instead of rushing them into embracing everything the facility offers, it’s crucial to give them grace and allow them to navigate the adjustment process at their own pace. By being patient and supportive, you can help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety associated with the move to assisted living.
  • Listen to Them Listening attentively to your loved one’s concerns and problems is also essential in supporting their transition. Moving to an assisted living facility is a significant life change, and your loved one may have fears or uncertainties about their new environment. By actively listening to their concerns and addressing them with empathy and understanding, you can help validate their feelings and provide them with comfort and reassurance. Acknowledging their concerns and working together to find solutions can go a long way in helping your loved one feel more comfortable and secure in their new living situation.
  • Make Them Feel At Home– Personalizing their living space can be a meaningful way to help your loved one feel more at home in the assisted living facility. Downsizing before the move may have been a difficult process for them, but encouraging them to keep special mementos and treasured possessions can help them create a sense of familiarity and comfort in their new space. By surrounding themselves with belongings that hold positive memories, your loved one can feel more connected to their past and find solace in their new surroundings. Personalizing their living area can provide them with a sense of identity and belonging, making the transition to assisted living more manageable and meaningful.
  • Monitor and Adjust– Monitoring and adjusting are crucial aspects of helping loved ones adjust to moving elders into a long-term care facility. Once the elder has settled into their new environment, it’s essential to continually assess their well-being and address any challenges or concerns that arise. Communicating with facility staff to address concerns or make adjustments to the elder’s care plan as needed is important. Flexibility is key, as the elder’s needs may change over time, and being open to feedback from the elder, family members, and facility staff allows for necessary adaptations. Seeking professional help, such as therapy or counseling, if the elder is struggling emotionally, can provide them with coping strategies and emotional support. Throughout this process, offering reassurance and support to the elder, validating their experiences, and encouraging open communication about their feelings and concerns are essential for their adjustment to their new living environment.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the adjustment period to a long-term care facility varies for each individual, influenced by factors such as their health status, personal preferences, and the level of support available. However, through assistance, emotional support, and opportunities for social engagement, a smoother transition can occur, enhancing the overall well-being and satisfaction of residents in long-term care facilities. Each resident’s journey is unique, and understanding their specific needs and preferences is crucial in providing effective support during this transition. By fostering a supportive environment that caters to individual requirements, caregivers and healthcare professionals can play a significant role in promoting residents’ adjustment and overall quality of life in their new living environment.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for informational purposes only. Nothing in this article should be construed as providing legal advice or the creation of an attorney client relationship. Laws are updated frequently and change from state to state. If you desire legal advice, you can contact Michael Hill Trial Law at www.protectseniors.com, send an email to info@protectseniors.com, call (800) 659-2712 to begin an investigation or contact another attorney.