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Dad Hates His New Home

The Scenario: 

You just helped move your father from his home to an assisted living facility.  He was no longer able to prepare meals, take his medications independently, or bathe.  He now needs 24-hour supervision, and the family could not manage that with the resources available.

Dad is having trouble making the transition.  He does not like the food, his room, the noise, the activities, his bed, or most anything the facility has to offer.  Visiting dad has become pure torture for you because the dad you knew has now become sullen.  You are afraid that he will spiral downhill, but you are not sure what to do. You are unable to stop working and stay home to be his round-the-clock care giver.  You feel stuck.


This situation has a simple solution. 

Your father is mourning what he has lost, mostly familiarity.  We all are used to our home.  Our home does not have to be a palace to be desirable for us.  So your father’s reaction is not that unusual.  Some individuals adapt very quickly, others do not.

You can be of some assistance in this situation by providing some level of normalcy for him. 

Make sure that he has prized comfort possessions, like robe, reading glasses, slippers, photo albums, favorite clothing, books, chair, TV, or snacks.  Reach out to friends to schedule visits.

Minimally, visit at least as much as you did when he was in his home.  Make your visits memory makers.  Play a card game, go for lunch, watch a football game together, or maybe a favorite movie.  Doing something together that you will both enjoy is the key.  Making your visits memorable and maybe more enjoyable than your visits at his home will paint his new life in a different light.

Address his concerns with the facility.  While they may not be able to change everything that he does not like, most facilities welcome kindfeedback and will do their best to make him contented.  Do not approach the facility staff with anger and demands.  You might have some success with that method initially, but you may also find that staff will steer clear of you in the future. 

If after many months things do not improve and your father remains unsatisfied, it may be time to visit other facilities.  You will know if it is just his usual complaining or a heightened response to the actual environmental issues.