Children of shy parents become accustomed to handling many of life's minutiae for them over the years – making phone calls, dealing with service people, and handling errands are just a few of the tasks they perform during both childhood and adulthood. When the time comes for the shy parent to enter an assisted living facility, you may feel anxious knowing how difficult it is for them to come out of their shell and to connect with others. The following tips can help you help your shy parent with the adjustment to their new living arrangements.
Tip #1: Take On a Proactive Role
A move, even into an assisted living facility, is both tiring and stressful for your parent. Be proactive and work to make the move as easy as possible. Your goal is to get them unpacked and settled in as soon as possible. Those that are shy or feel anxiety about new social experiences will often find an excuse not to reach out to their new community. By helping your parent move quickly, you take away the excuse of moving, and they can instead begin connecting with their new community.
Tip #2: Connect With the Welcome Committee
Most assisted living communities have a welcome committee of some type. In facilities with minimal care, such as senior living apartments, this community may be made up of residents. In facilities with more intense care, like a nursing home, there is usually a social or activity director that acts as the welcome committee, with or without the assistance of residents. Letting the director know that your parent is shy is a good idea, because they have professional experience in making withdrawn residents comfortable.
If your parent is shy or sometimes withdrawn, you may need to make the first contact with the committee, whomever it may be. Ask about family events that are coming up. These events are especially helpful if your parent is shy, because then you can provide support until they have a chance to make new friends. Get a copy of each month's social calendar, as well. This way you can follow up with your parent and remind them of upcoming events that may interest them.
Tip #3: Adjust to the Amenities
Almost all assisted living facilities
If guests are allowed to use the amenities, which is often the case with pools and game rooms, this is a good opportunity for the grandchildren to help grandma or grandpa. Your parent is less likely to become withdrawn with their grandchildren, and children are an excellent conversation starter in many senior living facilities.
Tip #4: Step Back
Now that you have laid some ground work and your parent has met a few of the other residents, it's time to step back. You don't want your parent to become dependent on you for all their socializing, or they will end up spending many lonely days in their room waiting for you to visit. After an initial adjustment period of a few days, help your parent commit to an upcoming event on the activity calendar. A simple agreement to go with a new friend or a member of the welcoming committee ensures there is an on-site buddy to help draw your parent out of their shell.
Follow up with your parent often, and make inquiries into the social life of the community. If you notice that they are becoming both withdrawn and unhappy, you may need to work more closely with the activity director or staff at the facility to help your parent adjust. To find out more, contact a business like Harbor View Home.