Moving into a retirement village or aged care home can be a difficult transition. It’s a major life upheaval that can often be accompanied by health problems, the death of a loved one or financial stress.
However, change is an important part of life and it often occurs for the better. To help you transition into a retirement community, here are five tips for getting settled into aged care.
- Acknowledge your Anxiety
The uncertainty that is associated with moving to a new place is bound to create feelings of anxiety. However, like with a lot of things in life, awareness precedes control. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and understand that it will get better as you grow accustomed to your new life. Typically, it takes about a half year to a full year to get fully settled in to a retirement community.
It helps to think back to similar experiences that you’ve had in the past. This may be moving into a new neighbourhood or a new workplace. It’s always intimidating at the start, but in such situations you almost always find a way to settle in. It also helps remind yourself of the things you used to cope with such changes. You might approach things with a sense of humour, lean on loved ones or see it as a challenge.
If you don’t feel any better after a few months have passed, try to seek additional support. Remember, the aged care workers are there for your well-being, so it’s best to let them know of your worries. If you’re questioning whether or not you’ve made the right decision to move, discuss it with them.
- Address Practical Needs
Mental health is important but so are your physical and practical needs. When moving into an aged care community, you need to make sure your practical needs are met.
It’s important to let the workers know of any dietary requirements. This includes allergies, intolerances or medical dietary issues. You can also let them know what you prefer eating and drinking.
Make sure you’re able to receive the physical assistance that you need. You might need help with mobility, maintaining personal hygiene or eating. If you have impairments that hinder your ability to verbally or visually communicate, make sure that the staff is aware.
You should also make sure you have everything you need to be comfortable and as independent as possible. That may include your favourite furniture, mobility or assistance devices or safety equipment.
- Talk to your Family
It’s important to talk to your loved ones about the transition. Make sure they understand your needs, requirements and concerns and ensure you’re getting the support you need. Be open about what kind of support you need from them, whether it’s emotional, social, physical or financial.
Being open and communicative with the family will help them to understand what you’re going through and provide you with the support you need to settle in and thrive in your new life.
- Get to know the Staff and Residents
A relationship goes both ways. If the staff are taking the time to get to know you, make sure you do the same. This will allow you to become familiar with the people at the facility, which will then help you become comfortable. Additionally, this is a good time to address any concerns or questions you may have about the move.
Getting to know other residents is also important. You want to make sure that you do your best to become familiar with your peers. Although this might be intimidating to start with, it will help you gain a sense of belonging. If you isolate yourself out of fear or anxiety, those feelings might worsen.
- Remember Happy Memories
To stay positive, it helps to always look forward. However, sometimes, it doesn’t help to look back as well.
You can create a scrapbook that highlights all of your career accomplishments, life milestones and happy memories. In fact, with the internet, some of those memories might already be compiled on your own or a relative’s social media page.
Reminisce with friends and family about the good ol’ days. Remind yourself that you’ve had a great life and that moving into an aged care home will not alter that.
It’s normal to fear change. However, once you face it, you might find that you actually enjoy your new-found situation. Aged care homes in Australia are run by passionate and qualified workers who are there to make you feel comfortable and happy. Just like all changes in life, it’s an opportunity to make new memories and have new experiences.