Living in aged care- Photo of an older lady, sitting at a cafe while in respite, wearing a rust coloured polo neck with black vest smiling at someone off camera

Adjusting to living in residential care

Moving house is a time of big upheaval, none more so than when you move into a completely different environment. Aged care homes increasingly have a lot to offer, but there’s no doubt that the transition to residential care can be challenging.
Here are some tips on how you can better adjust to living in residential care, or help your loved one with this change.

Try new things

Many aged care homes offer a wide variety of activities. Whether it be group activities, such as a choir, knitting circle or cooking classes, or solo pursuits such as gardening or painting, there’s likely to be something you can try your hand at.
You might re-establish a lost passion, or surprise yourself by becoming a master of something new. The key is to be willing to take advantage of these activities and have an open mind.

See the positives

An open mind is also important for reframing how you may feel about your move. If you only look at the negatives, such as a loss of independence, you’re likely going to feel angry and upset. Making the most of your situation will mean your days will be more enjoyable and you’ll be less stressed.
If you’ve lived alone for years but are now surrounded by people, rather than seeing this as an annoyance, consider the benefits of new friendships opening up to you. Can you learn about new cultures? Can this company be enjoyed, instead of lamented? If you still want alone time, see if you can find time for yourself, while not becoming isolated.

Retain some autonomy

If a move into residential care wasn’t your choice, it can feel as if you no longer have any say over your life. Have a discussion with the staff and your family so they know how you’re feeling.
Tell them you want to be more involved with decision making where possible. While you can’t change your home, there can be other choices you make on a day-to-day basis that will make you feel more in control.

Express yourself

If you’re struggling to adjust, don’t keep this to yourself. Not expressing your feelings can result in you feeling angrier and misunderstood. However, also understand that there is a limit to how often your loved ones or the staff can hear your grievances.
That’s why it can be helpful to express yourself in other ways. If you’re religious, prayer might help you cope with your feelings. A friend in your new home might be a good person to talk to, and they may even be able to take your mind off any negatives. Creative expression, such as painting or colouring, can also be a big help (as well as being enjoyable).