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Senior Roommates “Trial & Tribulations of Later Life Roommates”

The last time I had a roommate I was in college. This is what most of our residents say when they enter a nursing facility. How difficult is it living with someone whether temporarily or long-term who you have never ever met?

The answer is “very difficult”. Imagine you’re being forced to live with a perfect stranger, from a different culture, with limited space; it is pretty hard to adjust. Facilities attempt at trying to ”match” the perfect resident with the appropriate roommate, room setting, homelike belongings, etc. It is a resident’s right to pick and choose which room they would prefer, which roommate is best suited for them, which items they would like in their living space. But does it always make a difference? Not always.

Most of us may think that our parents are at that age where living arrangements are not a priority. Oh but it is. They have lived independently most of their lives and now they are living with Mr. or Mrs. Smith. Let’s face it; it was hard enough watching our parents get along all those years and they loved each other.   Now we expect them to get along with a stranger.

I have seen residents who yell at each other, hide each other’s belongings, and simply cannot tolerate one another. One resident stated that his roommate “talked” too much while one felt his roommate was out to “get him”, sounds comical, but true. Not all residents feel this way. Some residents develop bonds and lasting relationships with other residents. They take on a caregiver role for another resident who may not have as many visitors.

So remember, as much as we as healthcare providers attempt at making their living space as homelike as possible, it takes time to adjust, as it would for you and me. Give your loved one some time to become used to a place and visit as often as you can. Residents sometimes feel that they have been forgotten or abandoned and this makes the adjustment process even harder.

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