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My Mom is miserable in assisted living. How can I help?

My mom hates her life and new living arrangements. Not only is the apartment a small studio, but she is unable to find a friend or any one that she can converse with. She says the caregivers don't care and no one ever helps her. I have spoken with Director and Nurse and their "take" is not the same as Mom's. She cries and is just miserable. I don't know how to help, and am getting depressed myself. She has been in this new situation for one month.

Status: Open    Mar 02, 2016 - 12:42 PM

Senior Living Communities, Caregiving

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Expert Answers

Mar 08, 2016 - 09:47 AM

Change is hard for many and it seems even harder for your mom. This is a normal reaction to the loss of her home, nearby friends, and a way of life. She may pass through this phase and come to accept, and even like, her new environment. Patience and understanding are key.

Having said that, don't dismiss her issues with caregivers. Of course, the Director, Nurse, and others are going to stand behind their staff. While it is possible that she is seeing things through a negative lens, perception is her reality. And, in many cases, caregivers are apathetic, barely trained, and poorly managed. I found this out first hand when my father was in assisted living.

You may want to consider finding a volunteer to provide companion support until she finds friends in the community. Encourage her to take part in activities and participate in dining room conversations. These things will help her fit in. An independent senior care auditor can check on her on a regular basis to assess her and her caregiving situation and report back to you.

Oct 03, 2016 - 10:09 AM

Your Mom has just made a big change in her life and it will take awhile for her to adjust. You can help her by being there for her. If you live close by, you might try to visit her when you can and go with her to some activities, that she enjoys,. This may help her get more involved and help her meet some of the residents.

Also, does she have some of her old friends, who live close by, that can come to visit her. If so, you might want to encourage them to visit. Sometimes, when someone moves to a facility, like your Mom, they hesitate visiting.

It is good that you spoke with the director and nurse about her concerns about her care. If possible, it might help for you to make an unannounced visit during the time that she is receiving care. It should give you a better idea why your mom is unhappy with her care. You do want to make sure that she is getting the care that she needs, but also make sure that you mom is cooperating with the caregivers. It might be that your mom isn’t communicating about her preferences and needs to the caregiver. You also might want to set up a meeting with you, your mom and the nurse who plans your mom’s care to discuss her needs and how those needs can be met. It is important that your mom be included in this discussion.

The assisted living facilities with which I am familiar, do not require the residents to always remain at the facility. Occasionally, you might want take her out someplace where she would like to go. You didn’t mention if there were other family members nearby that can also help support her.

Even if things start to go better for your Mom, continue to make visits at different times of the day, if possible. This will help all of the staff to get to know you and you know the staff and to assure yourself that your Mom is receiving safe and helpful attention.
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