Assisted Living

5/2/2022 | By Terri L. Jones

Seniors Guide suggests five tips for personalizing assisted living, to ease a loved one’s transition to new living arrangements, whether a senior apartment, nursing home, or another new and unfamiliar space.

Moving into an assisted living community can be a challenging and emotional transition. Not only is your loved one leaving a place where everything is familiar, but they also may feel as if they’re losing their sense of independence and privacy. As a result, the senior may be reluctant to make this move.

In an article in U.S. News & World Report, Julia Bailey, senior associate and interior design project manager with Denver-based OZ Architecture, explains that personalizing a senior’s new space can help make this difficult transition a little easier and more beneficial for the senior. According to Bailey, “… thoughtful interior design can go a long way toward improving happiness and well-being for the resident, as well as improving overall functionality of the new living space.”

Personalizing assisted living spaces

1. Make it feel like home.

Whether it means bringing their favorite chair from their house or placing the nightstand on the right side of the bed like they’re accustomed to, making their new apartment or room as similar to their current home as possible can help your loved one settle in more quickly and easily. Personalizing this new home is particularly important for those with dementia. In fact, many memory care facilities suggest residents’ families put together shadow boxes with mementos to help trigger memories. It’s also recommended that you allow seniors to choose which personal items to take along and where to place items once they’re moved in.

2. Include cozy touches.

woman in nursing home room, with pillows, sofa, blankets and throws, and a lamp. photo by Chernetskaya Dreamstime. These 5 tips for personalizing assisted living can ease a loved one’s transition to a senior apartment, nursing home, or other new space.

Lamps, rather than harsh overhead lighting, can warm up a room, advises Rita Mabli, president and chief executive officer of United Hebrew of New Rochelle. When overhead lighting is needed for safety, dimmers can help soften the glow. Comfortable throws and accent pillows can add aesthetic appeal as well as a homey, cozy feeling to the space and assist in personalizing assisted living rooms.

3. Add life to their living space.

Plants are a beautiful addition to any room or apartment. Plus, caring for them and watching them thrive can give seniors a sense of accomplishment. According to Mabli, “Plants such as orchids, succulents, snake plants and bromeliads emit oxygen at night, making them perfect plants for the bedroom.”

4. Keep it accessible.

When decorating, it’s important that you put everything your loved one needs within easy reach, suggests Unlimited Care Cottages. If they like to read, make sure the bookshelf is close to their easy chair. Their phone should also be in close proximity to where they spend the most time. Avoid packing closets and drawers so full that it makes it difficult for seniors to access their personal items. After all, personalizing assisted living spaces can include making the new life easy and comfortable as well as familiar.

5. Don’t forget space for socializing.

Social interaction is critical for seniors. That’s why it’s so important to designate an area of a senior’s apartment, with a sofa and comfortable chairs or a dining table, for spending time with friends and family. You might also consider a space for doing crafts or puzzles or pursuing hobbies alone or with friends.

Related: Five tips for easing the transition into assisted living

Change can be difficult for people of all ages, and especially for older adults who may also be experiencing feelings such as loss of independence and the familiar. By personalizing assisted living and other new spaces, you can help ease the transition for your loved one and yourself.

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over 10 years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones