Dad Is Lonely, Even Around Others
"My father is lonely even though he is in an assisted living with 25 people. I am not really sure what the problem is but I can give you more information about the situation.
Dad was a professional in management for his entire working life. In the last year his health has declined, and it is now necessary for him to have support, so he moved in about eight months ago. He is walking with a walker now and getting around, though not quickly.
Dad had to give up driving with this transition, so he is no longer able to come and go as he pleases. Because of that he seems to be losing connections to events that he used to attend.
He is in a facility with others that need round-the-clock care mostly due to confusion, I think Alzheimer’s. Dad has little patience with people that cannot remember what is going on around him or ask the same thing over and over. He just does not want anything to do with the others.
Now dad seems lonelier than he was in his home and we are wondering if we made a bad choice. Is there anything we can do to fix this situation?"
The adjustment to an assisted living situation is a significant change for almost everyone that makes that move. It is not realistic to expect your father to adapt quickly.
Your father has lost quite a bit of freedom in the form of transportation and the move to a group living situation versus a single-family home or apartment. He cannot go anywhere without planning for someone else to take him, his meals are on someone else's schedule, noise is not in his control, temperature is not his to set, and numerous other small losses. That all adds to potential discontent.
Keeping your father engaged at this time is extremely important for his mental health. Find out what his transportation needs are and work out an arrangement that gets him to at least some of the events that he attended before the move. Completely shutting him off from friends, or community activities can be very disappointing and is quite isolating.
Let the people who run the facility know that your father is having trouble adapting to his new home. Try to be as specific as you can so that they have a good understanding of what he is struggling with and can help problems solve and offer what assistance they can to help him connect with others. After you speak with the facility director, follow up in two weeks with an update about your father and ask them to give you, their observations. Ideally, the facility director will have experienced this situation in the past and can offer strategies that have worked for them.
A last thought is that you spend some time with your father at the facility meeting other residents and interacting with them. If he is generally slow to make new acquaintances your engagement might help him make faster connections with others.
Most importantly, do listen to your father’s concerns and visit frequently. Take him out as often as you can even if it is for short trips to the local ice cream shop.
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