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HORIZON BLOG

Helping Dad Acclimate

Question

My dad sold his home and moved into a retirement complex. He has a lovely apartment and there are many opportunities for engaging activities at his place.

Dad does not seem to be interested in anything the organization has to offer. They have exercises classes, lectures, music productions, card groups, and many more activities. Everything sounds quite wonderful to me.

Truth be told the activities available were not the type of things he did before. He was not a card player, he did not go to concerts, and exercise classes are not his cup of tea.

How do we help him acclimate to his new environment?

- Reader

Answer

Your father’s previous lifestyle is not likely a reflection of his current options. As a home owner he was able to fill his days with small projects around the house. Maybe he cut the grass, went to the store, swept the garage, talked to a neighbor, or any number of household tasks that could fill a day.

Living in his home for years he developed a routine that he has now lost. Oh, it was likely time for the change that occurred. The challenge is how to help adapt to this new way of living.

One thing very common place at retirement facilities is a high percentage of women. Because of the number of women there will be more events geared to women, or things women like to do. He may have to work harder at finding people with like interests where he lives and based on his personality it could be easy or challenging.

Some individuals can be quite reluctant to try new things, often because they will not be too good at whatever it is at first. If your father is used to being successful at skills he honed over a lifetime, it may be even harder for him.

Here is where you could be of some help. Try to visit your father more frequently initially. Bring him challenges to work on for you that match his skills if he has the wherewithal to do that sort of thing. It could be a drywall situation, investment research, a woodworking project, or anything that meets his prior skill set.

Another thing to consider is joining him to try some new activity. It could be fun for both of you. Try new restaurants instead of the old standards, take some short car excursions, go visit his old VFW or Legion post. Get creative and enjoy the adventures you can come up with. I believe the more unusual they are the more fun they might be.

Consider helping him meet other men in his facility. If you contact the person in charge of activities, he or she may be able to identify where the men like your father hang out. Maybe it is at 8am at the cafe, or lunch on the terrace, possibly a weekly poker night. Someone that works there knows what is happening and when. Not everything that is going on is formalized and printed as an activity.

I suspect that it will not take but one or two people or groups to help him make his new address feel like home. All it usually takes is some human connections. I believe they are there, he just needs a bit of help to find them.

Do insert yourself a bit for the short-term if you can, to help him become comfortable in his new home. It can be lonely in the midst of many when you do not have friends and are not comfortable trying new things. Maybe the two of you will have some wonderful adventures together while you go through the process of helping him.

 

 

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