Moving into a senior living residence, like any move, can come with many adjustments. A new home changes the community your parents interact with every day. In assisted living, your loved one will have the chance to enjoy company face-to-face. But the move also changes how often you visit them.
The change might mean you visit more or less. But which is better? You want your parent to feel appreciated and comfortable, but finding the right balance can sometimes be a juggling act.
Determining what’s best for them and you is often a personal decision. How often you should visit can depend on distance, personality, and health.
Digital vs. Face-to-Face
We live in an incredible technological age, where we can communicate across vast distances in seconds. But can a phone or video call replace a face-to-face conversation? Research into in-person and digital interactions has made it clear: digital is more convenient, but in-person is more meaningful.
Physical touch, whether a hug or a handshake, is a basic need. Touch deprivation is a risk factor for anxiety, depression, and immune system problems. But, the good news is massage therapy and pet relationships can have a similar biological effect, including calming our nervous center and releasing oxytocin (the “emotional bonding” hormone).
Connecting with someone in person offers the most benefits, but a digital interaction still provides a connection. Mixing in-person and digital communication can offer similarly positive benefits to in-person only. Therefore, you don’t need to visit face-to-face daily to nourish a relationship.
When you live farther away from your loved ones or life gets busy for a stretch, digitally connecting is still essential. The goal is to ensure some face-to-face interaction when you can.
Connecting Over Distances
When moving into a senior living community, one significant consideration is the distance from family and friends. While your parent will likely make new friends in their new home, it might mean adding miles from their old home.
When you live in the same city or nearby, it can be easier to visit regularly. But when you live across the state or country, weekly or even monthly trips might feel impossible.
There is no standard for how often you should visit your parent in assisted living. They may appreciate a weekly catch-up to discuss what’s new in your life (plus other friends and family). Or they may have a full social calendar, and scheduling your daily visit means missing out on fun events.
Learning their new lifestyle may take some time before determining the best times to visit. You may also mix digital and in-person visits. Setting up an easy video calling system can help some people feel more confident about the distance. You can check in as often as possible—or hop off a video call if your parent needs to dash off to an activity or wants some quiet time.
Generally, it’s best when you can visit your parent in person at some point, but the frequency is personal. Talk to your parent about how they feel and ask their closest caregivers. The community’s caregivers and staff may have some insight into the best times to schedule a visit based on your parents’ daily activities, health, or social calendar.
Social Connections Matter
People thrive when they have community engagement. On the other hand, a lack of social connections can severely impact health. It can be significantly more negative than high blood pressure, obesity, or smoking. Conversely, fostering social connections can increase lifespan, support mental health, and strengthen the immune system.
Fortunately, life in an assisted living community means your loved ones have social connections. They see people face-to-face every day. Although their community doesn’t replace their relationship with you, it means they have someone to rely on for support—whether for health issues, a casual conversation, or physical touch.
Encouraging your loved ones to participate in activities can help them nurture relationships within the community. Feeling like they belong and having someone to confide in can nourish their emotional, mental, and physical health.
Knowing they have a community to rely on helps you feel more comfortable when time lapses between in-person visits.
The bottom line is to visit as often as possible when it’s best for you and your loved ones. A weekly visit may be enough for an in-depth catch-up, or you may have time for a couple of weekly visits. When you live further away, visits may happen once a month or every few months. Mixing in a digital or phone call can help the distance seem smaller between your face-to-face interactions.
Finding A Community Connection
The community your loved ones spend most of their time with is essential to their well-being. The assisted living home you choose can significantly impact your peace of mind, so you know they’re being cared for and thriving between your visits.At Serenity South Senior Living, we focus on building relationships. We get to know every individual to personalize their care and help them feel at home. Schedule a visit to see how our community helps residents experience the most out of life.