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I’m in my first month of a major life transition.
I decided to move from the city I spent three quarters of my life (starting at age six) to another province that I had visited just a few times.
I went all in, moving my stuff (most of which is still in storage), and drove the 17+ hours with my cat Charlie, and my son who ended up doing all the driving as I managed Charlie’s travel anxiety.
I’m renting a house until September, and so the search for a more permanent residence starts.
I’ve realized this past week how I underestimated the emotional impact of this big life change.
Yes there’s family and friends that I miss, and we’ve all adapted to staying connected virtually, and that’s really helped.
What I didn’t expect was how tiring it can be to shift out of default mode. Getting acclimated to a new place and space takes a lot of time and energy.
For example, I had my usual grocery stops back home. I didn’t even need to think about which aisle I’d find the cat food. Now I need to find a grocery store, drive to it (thank you GPS), and orient myself to their layout. There I was standing in front of the cracker shelves staring at the selection, unable to decide between the rice or wheat.
Then the challenge of finding a new hair place, a vet, health practitioners, and whatever else I haven’t yet realized I need to source. All places and relationships I had in place and took much less energy to coordinate.
The other week I drove to an Association meeting at a University Campus. I thought I knew where I was going, until I realized I didn’t have a clue. Thankfully a lovely woman in the administrative office offered to walk me to the building where the meeting was – down the stairs, through an underground passageway, up the stairs and voila! When I left the meeting to go back to my car, I had no idea where I was or where my car was. I was completely turned around. I was fortunate that someone from there who DID know their way around helped me find my car.
It got me thinking about how disorienting it is when we are in a new situation or environment – whether, like me, choosing a big life change, or like families who, due to necessity, move their loved one into senior’s care.
I’ve felt lost (both physically and metaphorically) more than I anticipated. I have questioned my decision to move and wondered if I’ll ever feel like I fit in. For new families I think they also
feel lost. It’s a whole new world, the families don’t know what they don’t know, and it’s overwhelming and energy draining.
It’s been the helpers, the “guides” that have helped me source the information I’ve needed or helped me reframe my doubts and concerns.
Change is hard, whether we have designed the change, or the change has been forced upon us.
It can feel very lonely, as those around me aren’t going through the adapting and adjusting that I am. It’s been a good reminder to meet people where they are, and when I can, to be their helper, their guide to bring a little bit of ease to the anxiety they may be feeling.
I offer this as a reminder for you with your new families entering your seniors care home. They are feeling lost, unsure, and probably wondering if they’ve made the right decision.
I invite you to Take the Lead and Be the Guide your Families Need and Want, so they don’t feel so lost, and can get acclimated to your team and their new community faster.
If you’d like some help with building trust and managing expectations with your residents’ families, check out my latest book Now What? Managing the Emotional Journey of Long Term Care for Families. You can purchase a copy on Amazon or on my website here
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