Ready for Takeoff: How Frequent Communication Eases the Transition to Assisted Living

December 19

When it comes to making the transition to assisted living, think like a pilot. One must be in constant communication with air traffic control to ensure a smooth takeoff and successful landing.

Similarly, you and your family need to communicate efficiently and effectively with the facility’s senior care staff to ensure your elderly loved one has a smooth arrival and acclimation to his or her new assisted living community.

At Willow Towers Assisted Living, we welcome frequent contact from our residents’ families, from before their loved one moves in, to well after they’ve settled into their new apartment.

“Getting to know the staff at Willow Towers and being in near-constant communication with them not only helped my Mom transition, it helped my four brothers and me adjust,” says Tom Lang, son of Jeanne Lang, who is a Willow Towers resident.

Lang says that the information and advice he received through regular phone calls and emails helped him improve the quality of his family’s visits with his mother. It also helped him to make a decision about relocating from his own residence to one a little further away from his mother.

“I was worried that moving would have a negative impact on my mother, who is on the dementia spectrum,” says Lang. “She had grown used to visiting us and I didn’t want to disorient her. But the staff at Willow Towers let me know that she seemed to be adjusting well to their environments and activities, and what was most important to her was to maintain our routine visits. A year later, she’s really thriving.”

It’s a two-way street

Ronni Siegel, Lang’s liaison to his mother’s care team, says frequent communication between resident families and Willow Towers helps staff to provide the best care possible.

Here’s how it works:

We get to know our residents: “We learn their preferences, their passions, former work, hobbies, and current interests,” says Siegel, director of operations. “That helps us tailor activities, personalize care, and engage them in their new community.”

Families get to know us, too: “There is a wide range of staff who may come into contact with your loved one, and they all help create a holistic picture of how your loved one is doing,” Siegel notes. “For example, dining staff may observe a resident isn’t eating; recreation staff may notice a change in the resident’s participation in or understanding of an activity; our front desk staff may notice a change in behavior. We gather all of that feedback and relay it back to family members frequently to keep them up-to-date.”

Regular communication across many channels: “We maintain a schedule of monthly phone calls and email with all of our resident families. Or more, as needed. We never want families to be surprised about changes in their loved one’s condition,” Siegel says. Email, phone calls, text messages, and photos are ways in which the staff conveys how residents are doing.

According to her son, Jeanne Lang, a lifelong resident of New Rochelle, has adjusted well to life at Willow Towers.

“She’s playing bingo, listening to music, attending church services—and painting, all of which she used to love doing! The entire staff at Willow Towers is so on top of everything—they are her angels. And because we’re in such close contact, they were able to learn a lot about her and encourage her to do more. It’s a very full life.”