Even Seniors Who Choose Assisted Living May Experience ‘Homesickness,’ and What You Can Do to Help

Most people understand what homesickness feels like. When they were younger, maybe they went to camp or to spend the night at a friend’s house and that first time they had this sick feeling in their stomach, longing for home. Or it may have happened when they went off to college or to start a career or into the military.

It may last for a few days or weeks, but eventually it subsides. As people become accustomed to their new living environment, their new situation, they grow more comfortable. Even seniors who willingly and excitedly choose assisted living for their future may experience some sense of homesickness when they first move in.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the way family members, friends, or others react to those homesick feelings the senior expresses might be.


How can you help?

Assisted Living Fairhope, Al: Seniors and Homesickness

Assisted Living Fairhope, Al: Seniors and Homesickness

The first and perhaps best thing anyone can do when an aging parent, spouse, or other elderly loved one first moves into assisted living and expresses a longing for home is to listen.

That’s it. Just listen. Don’t try to offer advice, counsel, or tell them things will get better. Just give them in an ear to talk to. You may feel bad. They might start crying on the phone or in front of you, during an in-person visit. Offer compassion. Be empathetic. But don’t try to ‘solve the problem.’


Too many family members jump in too quickly.

They may feel regret for even suggesting this elder care option in the first place. They may have some guilt hanging onto them and when they see their mother or father weeping or mourning the loss of their home, they might immediately offer to take them in, bring them back home, or other drastic measures.

Instead, simply listen, tell them you understand, let them cry, and let them just have their moment. Avoid some of the common phrases like, ‘It will get better,’ or, ‘You haven’t even given this a chance yet.’

If the senior is weeping and feeling homesick for an extended length of time, what you can do is begin asking about the various activities. Ask them to take you on a tour of the facility. Ask them to show you the dining room, the entertainment room, the lounge, or where they go for walks and get some exercise.

When you distract from the homesick feeling and give them purpose, give them something to do, something they can take pride in, such as showing you around, they will also be showing themselves what’s out there.


Many people will get these homesick feelings.

It happens to the best of us. It may very well happen to an aging senior, even somebody who is excited about assisted living at first. It will pass.

The worst thing anyone can do is take that homesick feeling and make something more out of it than it really is. It’s a temporary longing, often rooted out of fear and anxiety, that could lead them away from the best elder care situation they have available to them.

If you or an aging loved one are considering a move to an Assisted Living in Fairhope, AL, contact Ashbury Manor Specialty Care and Assisted Living at 251-317-3017.

About Cindy Johnson

Ashbury Manor’s Administrator since 2008, Cindy Johnson is a long-time expert in the assisted living field. Prior to her arrival at Ashbury Manor, Cindy managed acquisitions and crisis management for existing and new larger senior care project developments for eleven years. As regional manager for an Oregon-based assisted living management company, Cindy was directly responsible for operations for five 50-65 bed assisted living facilities. As manager during the transition to new ownership, Cindy reorganized internal operations and conducted leadership training for Executive Directors. As a result of her management and expertise, one of the company’s facilities (in Ocala, Florida) received a deficiency-free survey, resulting in the lifting of a moratorium on operation.

A nurse for 36 years, senior care has always been Cindy’s passion. Desiring to work more closely with residents, Cindy became a Category II Administrator in 2005. As Ashbury Manor’s Administrator, Cindy understands the complexities associated with dementia and cognitive impairment and she has fallen in love with seniors with dementia or cognitive impairment and their families.

Cindy is Treasurer of the local “Senior Coalition” chapter. She enjoys mentoring new candidates who want to become administrators.

As a 16-bed facility, with Cindy's training and experience, our residents and their families can be sure Ashbury Manor’s carefully selected staff provides the expertise of a larger facility while maintaining the individualized personal care of a small special needs home.
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