Follow
Share

After researching and visiting a number of assisted living communities, I felt this one suited her best. There are only 65 residents, 1/3 are men. The residents seemed to be on her level of physical and mental ability. I passed up the snazzy resort-like community since her tastes are rather simple. The residents where she now lives prefer to sit and watch without communicating. There is no ambassador. No one has stepped forward to introduce themselves. She had high hopes of finding a game partner and making a friend or two. She's not outgoing, but I give her credit for trying to make friends and going out of her way to participate in what activities they offer.


For the past 3 years she lived with my brother and sister-in-law, who begged her to let them be her paid caregivers because they needed the money. Since he is the baby boy of her three children, she happily agreed. My husband and I helped out by taking her 2 or 3 days a week without monetary compensation. Her life with them consisted of sitting in front of the TV all day, with an occasionaly dinner out. Last month they told me to find other arrangements for her.


I guess my question is: does anyone know how to get a LO settled into a new community. There must be other residents like her who need a little help connecting (how to find them?). Any suggestions would be appreciated. I don't want to be the pushy/complaining family member. I just want her to be relatively happy in her new home.

I had to be the social leader myself when I first moved Mom into AL. We've got a good activities director, but I can't get Mom to participate in the activities. I talked to almost all the other residents, introduced Mom to them, and got conversations going. I work full time three states away so it wasn't easy, but that's the only thing that could be done. I couldn't count on anyone else. Every time I go back, I have to work to rebuild her relationships. We have to sit with people in the dining room and find things to talk about. Mom gets in bad habits of not going to meals (even tho' we have to pay for the meals that they bring down to her room) and then someone takes her seat and she's on her own again. She was just complaining tonight about not having friends there, when she could if she just utilized the opportunities that are available.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Teri4077
Report

Thank you all for your awesome advice and the continuing support. I love this site! I feel as though I know most of you and I value your expert opinions.

Today I called my mom on FaceTime because I have a cold and couldn't visit her. She has a problem with fluid buildup that can lead to heart failure, so when she told me she had swelling in her ankles, I had her weigh herself while I stayed on the phone. She needed a diuretic but couldn't get the cap off the bottle (that's the one medication I manage for her). She took the pill bottle and phone down to the nurses office and I asked the nurse to help her. Within minutes she had her pill and her juice caraffe filled up and all was fine -- oh, the wonders of modern technology! In a minor crisis like today, I can be there without being there.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to sudalu
Report
Dadsakid Oct 2, 2018
Hope you’re feeling better soon! Wish you all the best as your mom adjusts!
(1)
Report
Sudalu, you mentioned that the activities director doesn't appear to be doing much for your mother. That is a huge red flag. As I mentioned in my earlier post, it is their job to work with new residents to acclimate them. You might want to have a very direct conversation ASAP with the facilities director (boss of everyone) and make sure she understands your expectations and your willingness to help develop a care plan. If the facility is unable to meet your expectations, better to find out sooner than later.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to debbye
Report
sudalu Sep 30, 2018
debbye, that's what I was thinking. My plan was to go to the ice cream social before it started and introduce myself and my mom, but my mom had a salon appointment and the activity director was already fully engaged when we arrived. Before I go over her head and complain to the facility director, I will make it a point to chat with the activity gal. If that doesn't work, I will take it up with the boss. Thx again.
(1)
Report
When my ex was moved to AL by my daughter he was very unhappy. She visits him a couple times a week. Usually to get him to doctor, take him to Walmart or pick up his meds. She usually stops by after her church on Sunday, she always has lunch with him on Sunday at his table. She even took him to his church a couple of times which is right next door to the AL. He won't go on his own so she stopped that. When she was at the AL and activities were going on, my ex didn't want to be included, so Sue would take part herself. She even went on outings when he wouldn't go. I remember one time she told me about going there on Sunday and one of the old ladies told her they were having a "Tailgate" party and they were going to serve (whisper) BEER. They are in Washington and the Seahawks were playing a home game. In case I wasn't clear, the tailgate party was at the AL. My ex wouldn't come out of his room, but Sue stayed for game and the party and had a good time.

It took him almost a year to settle down. Now he has found people to help and he is a lot happier because he feels important. The doctors discovered he was having Adrenal Gland failure and when that was taken care of he perked right up.

I agree with others give it time. Personally, I would visit her in the common rooms and see for yourself what is up. In other words, don't visit her in her room. This is a huge change in her life and she may need a long time to adjust. If over 3 or 4 months, you see no one else talks to anyone, then deal with it. If everyone seems friendly and she keeps complaining to you, maybe you need to put it back on her to do something. She might feel if she complains enough she can go back to her old place. I think that is what my ex thought but it wasn't going to happen, his apartment was gone and so was all of his things.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to MaryKathleen
Report
sudalu Sep 30, 2018
So happy it turned out well for your ex, Mary Kathleen. It appears your daughter has bonded with the people at that facility. Maybe she has you in mind for later down the road. Or she's picking out her own senior care facility when the time comes. Those "old ladies" sound like my kind of people! :-)
(1)
Report
Give it time, change is difficult whether you are the new kid or the old kid on the block.

Encourage mom to continue to be cordial and greet people around her, people that appear comfortable in their own skin tend to be a magnet for others, needy people scare others away, this is true no matter the age group.

All the advice about you greeting and speaking with others is great, as well as you and mom doing an activity in a common area, be sure and laugh and talk just show what fun you are having, make sure that you are doing something that others can join in. When they meander over to see what's so entertaining, invite them to join in. Do a name intro and move on to the fun, lots of people hate to be the center of attention, and questions can make them feel uncomfortable. So a neutral fun environment until there is some familiarity is safe for all.

I found if I always smiled and said hi, no matter the response in about 2 weeks I would get a smile and hi back. Sometimes we have to be what we want to see in others and it is not always easy to take the time or the uncertainty of the situation. She can do this with your help.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal
Report
sudalu Sep 30, 2018
isthisrealyreal, yes, I'm already noticing residents smiling at me when I enter the building. And some even verbally respond to my greeting. We met a resident and her visiting sister at the bingo session. They were very helpful and made us feel welcome and comfortable. One week in and things are looking better.
(0)
Report
Can you go with her to a few of the planned activities? Engage others at the table in conversation and introduce her?
maybe go to the dining hall with her and chit chat with other around her? Maybe suggest they “meet again later” for dinner or coffee? (Then She has “plans” for later when you’re not there)
Id try just one or two friends at first. It’s easier to remember names and it’s a lot of information to learn about someone all at once... a friendship can build gradually, and she might enjoy having someone to do things with rather then a big crowd.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Rattled
Report

It is early days yet - encourage her to go to all activities until she finds the ones she likes the best - her fellow residents will warm up once they get used to her - as far as games & people to play with the recreational staff will be the ones to talk to because they know which ones like that -

If your mom & you play a game in the common area then some may gravitate to watch & they may be the ones who play games - but what you doing is showing others that your mom likes to play games so that might make an opening - give your mom a deck of cards in a box that she can carry with her all the time in case an opportunity araises
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to moecam
Report
sudalu Sep 30, 2018
Excellent idea, moecam. That's my plan for next week.
(0)
Report
My first suggestion is for you to make friends with the staff: the director, activities director, nurses and as many resident assistants as you see when you visit. We did that at my dad's memory care facility and it made life a lot easier. We didn't just approach them with complaints and we let them know we wanted to be part of his care plan and help find solutions when problems came up. (It didn't hurt that my dad was adorable and they all loved him.) If the director and activities director have not mentioned a care plan or asked about things your LO is interested in, you may need to make it clear that you expect these things and that you're happy to help develop them. It is their job to help new residents acclimate. We filled out pages of information about dad, including his past affiliations with job, military, church, etc., as well as interests. If that doesn't show results, you may need to consider whether this is the best place for your LO.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to debbye
Report
sudalu Sep 30, 2018
debbye, I think that's what concerns me. The activities director hasn't made a move to include my mom in daily activities. I went with her to an ice cream social/bingo activity and the director did not even take a moment to come up to us and introduce herself or just say hi. I would have initiated an introduction, but she seemed standoffish. It's possible she welcomed my mom on a day when I wasn't there, so I'll keep an open mind regarding her job ability and personality.
(0)
Report
Settling a parent into any facility is a bit like leaving your child at college. Meaning you hope they acclimate, make friends etc. It is hard, I know! When my dad moved from IL to AL he complained bitterly but in about 3 months he was so much better. It takes longer than we expect and people at that age don’t often just start friendships right off the bat. You’re mom may be more outgoing and social than others. So give it time...try not to worry.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Harpcat
Report
sudalu Sep 30, 2018
Harpcat, my mother is more of a man's woman than a woman's woman. She has had 3 lifelong female friends in the course of my lifetime. And 3 husbands, all deceased. So, I expect she will gravitate to a male resident, or 1 or 2 females. Something like that cannot be rushed, but at 97, she doesn't have a lot of time to waste. :-)
(1)
Report
A lot of good suggestions from fellow answerers, but I have a different perspective due to my mil. As her dementia has progressed, she has become needy of social contact and conversation. Even so, she does not always perceive what is going on around her in the same way as others.
She complains that others do not talk with her, in fact people do not smile or laugh as much in Ohio as they do in Kansas!
I ate lunch with her at her IL facility and there was much conversation and laughing. She just sat there and ate. Later complained about how everyone just sits there and shovels the food in and then leaves. That's not what I saw but any sort of reasoning is lost.
Don't know if this might be happening for your LO, but just thought I'd offer it as a possibility.
Best wishes.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to MARRAM
Report
sudalu Sep 30, 2018
MARRAM, that certainly is something to consider. She is shy and used to being around family, no friends since she moved to our area 3 years ago. She's hard of hearing and her voice is weak. For her, being social means playing games (she doesn't have to converse). Her favorite is Aggravation, or a simplified form of Hand & Foot.
In the six days of living in the ALF she is more physically inclined while her short term memory has declined immensely. But, she is also quite skilled at manipulating me. This may be her way of getting me involved more. Or it could that the residents are functioning at a lower physical and cognitive level, as IAMKHM suggested.
I will take everyone's advice and give it more time. Thx
(2)
Report
It's early days. If she were three months in, I'd be more concerned.

Several of the responses recommend that she see the activities coordinator, which is a good start.

You may also want to assist her by arranging a get together of her own outside of the gatherings arranged by the AL facility. Could be for coffee/tea and cookies or something along those lines.

I will say this - sometimes as children/caregivers, we expect too much of AL living environments. There is this expectation that everyone there wants to be friends/have friends and that having arranged activities means that their LO and/or other residents will participate. This isn't always the case. It also takes time for residents to acclimate to someone new.

It may well be that, despite whatever the appearance and presentation were for this AL facility, the residents are functioning at a lower physical and cognitive level.

Give it a few months - if nothing changes, you can look into another alternative.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to IAMKHM
Report
sudalu Sep 30, 2018
IAMKHM, I'm beginning to suspect that that may be the case. But, yes, time will tell.
(1)
Report
It is still early, so, I'd give it more time. I'd consider at least a month, before, I would be concerned. In the meantime, I'd do as others have suggested here, such as talking with the Activities coordinator. I did that and she was able to ask my LO to help her with some small tasks that made her feel helpful and special. Also, discuss the dining room and stress how your mom needs to be next to social people who are conversational. They should be able to find a good fit for her. And the staff should be able to broker some friendships.

Find out if they have live singers come. That often lifts the mood and invites people to be in conversation after the music stops.

I'm not sure how much time you have, but, when my LO went to regular AL, I actually would go and visit during the day and sometimes the evenings. I'd sit in the reading room or activity room and chat with the other residents. We would talk about their relatives, which part of the community they grew up, favorite foods, hobbies, etc. I would share of myself, but, mainly talk about my cousin, who was not that chatty. Plus, she had dementia, so, she was not very social, but, was lonely. So, I brought them to her. She would usually just sit and listen, but, it made her feel included. They enjoyed chatting with me, so, they looked at her fondly and would talk to her after I left. Sadly, my LO's dementia progressed and she had to be moved to a MC. Once at the MC, she felt much more comfortable and was quite content. So, you might observe to make sure that your mom and these other residents are able to converse socially.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Sunnygirl1
Report

All very helpful suggestions. Thank you. The activity director sounds like a good place to start. I will take Mom to the ice cream social and bingo tomorrow. She has the activity schedule and already went on the shuttle to Target the second day she was there. Totally surprised me! She knows where the activity room is and checks it often to see what's happening. Nothing. There was a mix up about the table seating for her. I'm not sure she's at the correct table. She says they answer her questions but that's about it. No conversation. She loves to play marbles (a form of Chinese checkers), so maybe she and I can get a game going and see if anyone with knowledge of the game approaches.

I had to laugh when she said all the people there were so old. She's the second oldest person there. She also said they just sit and stare at her. I'm beginning to wonder if her level of cognisance is more refined than most of the residents. It's assisted living, not memory care. Probably I'm just being overly protective of her. She's a very sweet lady and it kills me to see her unhappy. I will take the advice here and get more involved.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to sudalu
Report

There’s likely an activities director, make sure your mom knows this person, and tell them of her interests and her desire to meet people who’d be a friend. They are usually a good source of help
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Daughterof1930
Report

Speak with the activities director. And let her know the type of things your mom likes/liked to do. You may actually have to go on the day to make sure mom gets to activities room first couple of times. It can be overwhelming to be the new kid. Also ask if they do any outside activities and if so when the next is planned. These are especially good to help extend both your parents and your social circle within the NH.

Often the outside stuff is not overly publicized as some folks cannot afford to go or they really need a family member to definitely go as they need a shadow or spotter. The residents go in the facilities van with some staff but family go in thier own car and meet up at the restaurant
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to igloo572
Report

Yes, its like being the new kid in school. Usually, they sit people together at dinner to meet each other. It also depends on if they have Dementia or not. Why not go and sit in the common area with her. Talk to the residents and find out their likes. If Mom is interested in the same thing bring her into the conversation.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report

Three days is a very short time, and sometimes the people who ‘gush’ too soon turn out to be a pain in the neck. Perhaps you could suggest that she has a look at her fellow residents, and perhaps approaches them briefly to ask what they are doing at the time. Then in a week or so, she could work out who to approach to ask to sit with them or join in with them. If she likes card games, sitting in the common area playing patience is a good way to start a conversation - with luck someone will turn up to say ‘the black seven goes on the red eight (which I read in a book as the best strategy to get help if you break down in the desert!).
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to MargaretMcKen
Report

Most places have an activity calendar? Is there anything on it that interests your mom? She could make new friends at those.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to rocketjcat
Report