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Getting Along with Assisted Living Roommates

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getting along with assisted living roommates

Last Updated on November 16, 2021 by Ian Evans


Having Assisted Living Roommates whose personality clashes with your own can be unbearable. Should your mom insist on a different roommate?

Should they suffer in silence?

Or, is there a way to improve the situation so that your mom and her assisted living roommate become more accepting of one another? Read these tips on how to resolve assisted living conflicts.

Why Do Conflicts Arise between Assisted Living Roommates?

Most incompatibility problems typically stem from assisted living roommates set in their ways.

They have their hobbies and interests, their personality habits, and unique quirks. If they haven’t changed those habits and quirks by now, they’re not likely to ever do so.

If your parent is the messy one, you may be able to help out by tidying up whenever you visit. But that’s not a partial solution at best, and if your mom is the neat one. At the same time, her roommate is the slob, and there’s not much you can do other than bring it to the attention of the administrative staff.

Other incompatibility issues — for instance, if one roommate talks too much and the other prefers quiet. Or if the two roommates butt heads over the use of the TV set — are likewise difficult to resolve.

Conflicts also may occur over differences in schedules. Perhaps one roommate is an early riser, while the other is a night owl. Being too noisy while someone is trying to sleep can be a significant cause of irritation.

Conflict can vary amongst roommates depending on each living situation. It is important to know about common roommate problems upfront. So this way, you can take the necessary steps to prevent these problems by personally exhibiting the traits of a good roommate.

Types of Conflict

Here are the most common problems include:

  • Borrowing personal items, such as clothing, without permission.
  • Eating another’s food.
  • Messy living habits.
  • Poor personal hygiene.
  • Lack of respect for each other’s space.
  • Being too noisy.
  • Having friends and significant others over more frequently than the other roommate(s) prefers.

It’s a good idea to establish rules upfront for handling these issues if they come up. If preventative measures aren’t taken, it can damage relationships and make living intolerable.

Ask for Help

If it’s helpful to have a conflict mediator, don’t hesitate to contact the administrator to assist any roommate issues.

If your loved one lives in an establishment that doesn’t have such a person, get in involved. Maybe ask for help from other sources. You can enourage your loved on to talk about any roommate issues that they may be experiencing.

Quick Tips

  • Communicate! Yes, we know that this is easier said than done, but you need to convince your loved ones to talk to their roommate or administrator. There’s no point in stewing all day as only their time is being ruined. Have them talk as openly as possible. If they choose to confide in you, be as supportive as possible but maintain a neutral stance and make a case for both parties.
  • Another good way of looking at things would be to ask your loved ones to compromise. This doesn’t mean that they have to completely bend to their roommate’s will. But if it’s the little things that don’t call for the roommate to change, have them compromise instead.
  • Your loved one needs to avoid the “me versus them” mentality. It can be very easy for them to fall into that mindset. As we mentioned, communication is key.

What Can the Staff Do about This?

For some people, their eating, sleeping, bathing, and socializing schedules are more than preferences. They are a lifestyle.

This is especially true when it comes to sleeping schedules. You will find that compromise is not always an option. Changing schedules or having disturbed sleep can affect someone greatly. It can even be the reason behind the progression of certain diseases such as Sundowner’s syndrome at an older age.

As you can imagine, such differences can be monumental and affect a senior significantly. Now, it’s true that most adults can comfortably adjust their habits to those of their roommates, but this is not always the case. If one elderly roommate regularly watches television at high volume, while the other prefers tranquil silence while reading, an issue can arise.

Be Ready for Certain Differences

Another example is that of a roommate who bathes for a long time, hogging the bathroom and perhaps even using up all the hot water. Therefore, it is extremely beneficial to discuss habits and rituals that might disturb the other party beforehand. This is the best to ensure that conflicts don’t arise once your loved one is living with someone.

In some assisted living facilities, roommates do not share anything more than the living room space. But this isn’t always the case, and in some facilities, they might share a bedroom.

Therefore, it is also crucial to understand what standards of privacy are important to both roommates. The most important order of business is to negotiate mutually agreeable rituals and to set up a structure for later adjustments. Roommates should agree on what kinds of habits would support these standards.

It is always important to leave room for compromise. Family members should consider the ease of switching to a private room or changing roommates as well. At some facilities, transitioning to a new space is easy. At others, it can be a hassle to do so.

What Can the Staff Do to Prepare and Prevent Such Conflicts?

In some cases, the only solution to overcome roommate disagreements is to request a different roommate. Perhaps you can upgrade your parent to a private apartment or room if it’s not cost-prohibitive.

It may be possible to resolve roommate conflicts through the fine art of compromise — i.e., the roommates agree to adhere to a TV schedule that allows each of them to see their favorite shows. The night owl invests in a reading light so she can read while her roommate slumbers undisturbed. The early riser agrees to keep quiet until it’s time to get up for breakfast. And they both agree to keep the clutter to a minimum.

If their attempts at resolution have failed, ask assisted living administrative staff to step in to help. As an objective party, the administrator may be able to propose a workable solution. It might be as simple as establishing a policy or emphasizing a pre-existing policy, such as a “lights-out” or “quiet-hours” rule for any shared spaces.

Agreements might be helpful

The administrator could also draw up a written agreement that both roommates adhere to. For example, setting up a schedule for TV usage or promising to keep conversation to a minimum when either party is reading.

Both parties make an effort to resolve their differences. They can overcome their differences and learn to enjoy their time together. Rather than regarding her living arrangement as intolerable, your mom may find it preferable to living alone.

Getting along with assisted living roommates
Getting along with assisted living roommates

What Can Families Do about the Conflict?

No matter how old we are, having a roommate can be challenging. There are many things that you might find annoying about your roommate. It could be their quirks or personality- it may be something considered socially inappropriate. After all, sharing your living space with someone else is not always easy.

It can be very difficult to adjust for those who have been living alone for a long time. Senior citizens, for example, will find it a bit harder to adjust to someone compared to young adults. But it’s not an impossible situation to be in. Here are some tips your loved ones can utilize if they’re having difficulty getting along with their roommate.

Talk to the assisted living facility administrator

If your loved one has informed you about the issues they’re facing, then contact someone immediately. The chances are that they may have some insights into the issue. They probably know how to resolve the conflict due to their experience. Encourage an open dialogue between all parties involved to fix the problem.

Be as honest and open as possible

So, your loved one is “tolerating” their roommate and has made their displeasure with them obvious. Stress the importance of being honest.  The best course of action will be to discuss the matter as openly as possible. If it’s nothing too big, like the roommate eating loudly or watching TV too loudly, it could be solved by simply asking the other party to turn it down.

If all else fails, get another roommate

This is the absolute last resort for obvious reasons but if the differences and issues don’t cease, then perhaps now’s a good idea to ask for a new roommate. However, you need to be careful this time around. After all, you don’t want your loved one to appear overly picky. Encourage the senior to talk to the new roommate and see whether they have shared interests.

Request a private room

If you’ve exhausted all options and the issues persist, then perhaps you ought to look into getting a private room for your elderly loved one. Of course, all of this depends on your budget. So be sure to discuss the different types of rooms and arrangements with the assisted living administrator.


In the end, we’d like to say that living with assisted living roommates is tough. Everybody is different, and personalities can often rub up against one another. But that’s alright! Remind your loved one that their roommate doesn’t have to be their best friend. As long as they are respectful and understand their boundaries, everything’s good to do. The important thing is to ensure that they can respect one another and live together peacefully. So, if they are having any issues, tell them that they’re free.

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