As we age, we oftentimes have to make adjustments to our living situations. Big, old houses require quite a bit in terms of maintenance, lawns need mowing, driveways need shoveling, & other things can compete for dwindling resources of strength & money as the years wear thin. Living alone or caring for a spouse can be lonely & exhausting. Many aging folks opt for moving into senior citizen only apartment buildings, then perhaps into assisted living facilities & finally nursing homes. But, with all of this moving from place to place, is there a way to make the environment feel a little more comfortable for them? Is there a way to make it feel more like home so that one can relax & maintain a positive mental attitude despite the myriad of changes assaulting them at this fragile time in their lives? We think so. Here are a few tips to help.
- Keep family close. Make sure that the places your loved ones are moving to are close by family members to make it easy to visit. If they are 5 hours away, let's be honest, most people will not make the trip once a month, let alone a few times a week to go and see them.
- Meaningful photos. Many people stop displaying family photos when they move into smaller quarters. There is definitely smaller amounts of space, but there are also often rules against putting many nails or tacks into the walls. I recently heard of a solution. Many photo printing shoppes will now print photos on photo paper that has the same removable adhesive backing that they use for other wall decals. You just need to bring in the photos or send them digital files & your family member can have a wall full of memories without the extra hassle of frames or nails.
- Cozy clothing, but stylish, too. Remember while packing up their clothing to get their input on what they find comfortable. Pack plenty of those types of clothing, but include at least 2 really nice dress up outfits. There will be many special occasions left to celebrate & you want them to feel free to look forward to the events without worrying about what to wear.
- Special collections. Some men collect pipes, some women collect books. Whatever the case is, be sure to pick out the most prized parts of a collection & find a prominent place to display them in their new quarters. It will remind them of home, but it will serve a greater purpose as a conversation started when they have guests that don't know them well. It will ease talk into areas with which they are familiar & help them to make friends in their new quarters.
- Whichever holidays items are most valued should be put into storage so that they can be taken out & displayed during that time period. We're all a little nostalgic around our favorite holidays & they can be the most lonely of times if you cannot celebrate them in the way that you'd prefer. Try to smooth the transition by surrounding them with the familiar.
- Do your best to help them organize their schedule similarly to what it was before they moved, but include other things to look forward to. Perhaps tea or coffee with you on one afternoon a week, or a date to go out for a sandwich or soup with a good friend or grandchild.
Just because there are major changes happening in their lives does not mean that they won't appreciate them. Give them time to talk about the new people they've met, about their curious ways & how different & difficult it can be. Help them to see the positives in their situation & work through the negatives in a healthy way. All of us feel most comfortable when we feel truly loved & looked after, so create that tone in your relationship & enjoy all of the amazing years that are left with your loved one!