Unexpected Benefits of Assisted Living: My Grandmother's Story

This Mother's Day weekend, I want to share a personal story about my grandmother and our family's experience moving her to an assisted living community.

My grandmother is an independent, strong woman in her mid-80s. Last year, she went through one of the biggest transitions of the past decade when we helped her move into an assisted living community.

She never thought that moving into an assisted living community would be something that she would want. She loved to cook meals in her own kitchen and she shared a spacious, sunny three-bedroom apartment with my grandfather, who still drove and parallel parked in San Francisco like a boss.

But, over time, we noticed changes in their habits. It got harder to get out of the apartment, so they went out less. They missed going to church. A few accidents led to a few visits to the hospital. Things just got steadily harder, so they started thinking about their options.

After several months of research and preparation, moving day arrived. It was bittersweet for the whole family. I remember standing in their empty apartment sadly recalling the hours I had spent lying on the tan carpeted floor, learning to cook in the kitchen, and sleepovers in the guest bedroom. I wondered how my grandmother would adapt to a smaller apartment, restaurant-style American food, and community living.

Now, almost 18 months later, my grandmother has adapted well to her new home and is happier than ever. Aside from the obvious benefits of moving to an assisted living community like staff supervision and an accessible living space, I’ve noticed the following additional benefits:

1. Social Interaction: My grandmother is a natural “connector” and she has made it a point to learn the names of all the staff and her neighbors. She has started a mahjong club on her floor, and is thrilled to participate in her new, accessible community. She gets to see her friends without having to drive or leave the building. On the other hand, my grandfather - an introvert - is happy staying in the apartment watching the Warriors on TV. Everyone is happy!

2. Exercise: Most communities are large enough that walking from one’s apartment to the dining room and back, three times a day can provide a decent amount of exercise. After a few months at her new home, my grandmother was walking better and less dependent on her cane. Almost all communities also have exercises classes in the mornings.

3. Peace of mind: My grandmother used to worry about leaving the house for fear that something would happen to my grandfather when she was out. Now, she goes out with ease, trusting that her husband is safe with care at home.

Many people fear that their elderly parents will not adjust to life in an assisted living community. And, yes, it’s a big personal and financial decision. That being said, older people are incredibly resilient. They can and do surprise you.

If you’re not sure if your parents are in the right housing environment, give Ayon Living a call. As a care manager, I can help you assess your housing options, your caregiving plan, and decide on the right living environment for your loved one.

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day, Poh Poh!

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