Supporting Family Members in Assisted Living Communities: Learning About Love Languages
Love languages are ways that individuals communicate and receive love from each other. Dr. Gary Chapman, an author and a pastor, believes there are five main love languages. By understanding how someone best receives love (i.e., what their main love language is), families can better support each other. If you’re looking for ways to support a loved one who has transitioned to an assisted living community, check out these ideas for each type of love language.
Words of Affirmation
Love can be expressed via words that affirm another person. People of all ages need to be affirmed, and this is one of the easiest love languages to engage in no matter where a person is. Take time to call your loved one, write an email or send a card telling them how important they are. You might communicate:
- Some skill or knowledge you used recently that you learned from them and are grateful for
- How you miss them
- Something specific that reminded you of them and why
- That they are still an important part of your life, no matter where they live
Acts of Service
Doing something nice or helpful for someone else — with no strings attached — is another love language. This is one we’re very familiar with at Bethesda Senior Living Communities: our faith-based mission is built on selfless service.
While the staff at all our communities performs regular acts of service for all residents, your loved one may be especially blessed by service that comes directly from you. Loving acts of service don’t have to be big; they might include:
- Cooking a meal for your relative
- Offering to drive your loved one to appointments or for an entertaining outing
- Making something meaningful for another person
Gifts are a tangible reminder of a person’s love, and you don’t have to be materialistic to appreciate a sincere present. Gifting is also a great way to show love to someone if they live far away and you can’t visit regularly. Consider handmade gifts that involved your time and care, printed and framed photographs of family or grandkids, favorite treats or just something unexpected that made you think of your loved one.
Quality time involves focusing your entire attention on the person in question. If you’re able to visit your loved one in an assisted living community, there are ample options for spending quality time together. Most of the Bethesda Senior Living Communities have lovely walking areas, so you can enjoy time outdoors while talking. Other options can include:
- Scheduling time together for a family-style meal
- Playing board games or cards
- Traveling to a nearby museum or other outing and spending quality time visiting during the car ride to and from the event
Dr. Chapman’s fifth love language is touch. While everyone has different boundaries around human interaction, psychologists do believe that human touch is a necessity for health and wellness. If you live near a loved one in an assisted living community, visiting regularly gives you a chance to exchange hugs or pats on the shoulder — small gestures that can make a huge difference in how much someone feels supported.
Remember, everyone experiences and shares love differently. Staying in touch and in tune with your loved one is the best way to know how best to support them.
Posted on Thu, April 12, 2018
by Bethesda Senior Living