Moving a loved one to a memory care community can be a tough transition for families to make, but it can be even harder on the senior who has to leave their home and maybe even longtime friends and neighbors. Feelings of loneliness and isolation can be especially hard on older adults.
Whether your loved one has lived in a memory care community for a while, or your family has just recently made the move, it is important to emphasize the need for older adults to stay connected with family and friends. Luckily, there are some tried-and-true methods, as well as some more creative ways to stay connected with your loved one.
Here are a few of our favorite ideas for how seniors can still build and harbor relationships with family members and friends while at a memory care community.
1. Send a Letter, Card, or Package
Who doesn’t love getting a personalized card or package in the mail? Though special occasions and holidays may be a given, taking the time to send lighthearted cards, kids’ crafts, pictures, or letters is a great way to remind loved ones that you are thinking of them. Also make sure that old friends and family have your loved one’s new address so they can send mail themselves and stay in touch.
2. Deliver a Craft or Handmade Gift
Get those creative juices flowing and find a new recipe, craft, or project to share with your loved one and their friends at the memory care community. This can be especially good if there is a family dinner, dessert, or even type of bread that brings back special memories and you can make or buy enough of it to share with others.
In return, encourage your loved one to get involved themselves; drawing or knitting helps keep seniors’ minds active and can make for great gifts to share with friends and family.
3. Connect Virtually
We all know that email is a quick and easy way to send a message, whether it’s just to say hi or to share a website link or news story, so set up an account for your loved one, too. Even if they do not have their own internet-enabled device, many memory care communities have computers available, so feel free to share that funny picture of your cat or the latest school photos.
4. Start a Distance Book (or Watch) Club
Don’t let the idea that your loved one, your family, and their friends cannot be in the same room stop you all from starting your own book club. Invite suggestions from the group for topics or titles, set a reading schedule, and schedule time for an in-person meeting or phone call to discuss the book.
For more tech-savvy seniors, pick a TV series, movie, or documentary and encourage friends and family to discuss it and chime in with their own rating.
5. Create a New Tradition
With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is sometimes best to have a regularly scheduled visit on the calendar to make sure you check in each day, week, or month with your loved one and brighten their day.
And each visit doesn’t have to be over the top; bringing a cup of their favorite tea or coffee, taking a trip to a favorite lunch spot, or taking a walk through a local park can be all you need to catch up and stay connected.
6. Get Involved
There are so many ways (both informal and more organized) for seniors to stay involved and socialize with their neighbors, staff, and other community members when they reside at memory care communities. This can be something as simple as encouraging a regular trip to common areas where residents can run into new and old friends, read a book or a newspaper, or eat in the dining room to catch up with others.
You can also encourage your loved one to try something new, taking advantage of the many programs and events that most communities offer. They could jump into a group or class and get involved in a health and fitness workshop or sign up for a trip to a local restaurant or landmark. Along the way, they will meet new friends and strengthen bonds with others. Even better, invite a friend from their old neighborhood or a visiting family member!
Making a move to a new place, getting to know new people, and staying connected is hard no matter how old you are, but it can be especially hard for seniors who haven’t done it in a while. Fortunately, communities like Arbor Terrace Waugh Chapel have friendly staff available and are happy to help their memory care residents stay connected with family and friends (new and old!) in any way that they can.
If you’d like to find out more about Arbor Terrace Waugh Chapel, call 410-941-3119 to arrange a tour.