Supporting your loved ones move to assisted living can be a challenging experience, especially if your loved ones have lived in the same home for many years. It’s completely natural for you and them to feel apprehensive, but for most seniors the transition to assisted living is an overwhelmingly positive one.
And luckily, there are things you can do to make the moving process a little bit easier. Here are 8 steps you can take to ensure moving to assisted living goes as seamlessly as possible!
Before the Move
1. Visit the Assisted Living Community.
Taking a few day trips to your parent’s new home before moving to assisted living may help them get acclimatized to a new environment without feeling too overwhelmed. During your visits, you might have the opportunity to sit down for a meal with current residents and strike up conversation or look around an apartment or room like the one your parent will soon call home.
You may also wish to look at the activities and programs offered (or ask if you can join in!) Getting involved in the community in small doses initially may reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed when the time comes to move.
2. Plan the Process.
Moving home can feel like a mammoth task at any age, and sometimes it’s challenging to know just where to start. It’s also typical for seniors to have accumulated a vast collection of possessions throughout their lifetime, and moving to assisted living usually means downsizing.
Going through each item and deciding what to keep might be difficult, but planning how you’re going to do this can make things a bit less daunting. For example, you might like to work on a room-by-room basis, perhaps tackling one room each day. Having a solid plan of what you need to do, when you’re going to do it and what you hope to achieve is a great start for a positive and productive process.
3. Start With the Easy Things.
When sorting through your parent’s possessions, many people find it’s easier to ‘warm up’ by initially focusing on non-sentimental items. Once they’re ready to move onto the more difficult stuff, it can help to already be in the swing of things. When it comes to sorting through possessions that are more emotionally taxing, it might also be useful to set aside several days to allow for more frequent breaks.
4. If Things Feel Tough, Remember Why You Decided on Assisted Living.
It’s completely natural to have occasional doubts about moving a parent to assisted living. When these worries arise, it’s important to remind yourself of your ‘why’. Take a moment to think about the expert care your loved one will receive 24/7, and the great new doors that will open to them for socializing and even starting up brand new hobbies. If you’re struggling to care for your parent alone or they’re no longer safe in their own home, feel reassured in knowing you’re doing the best thing for both them and you.
After the Move
1. Help Your Parent Make Their Space Their Own.
Whether your parent will be living in a private or shared room or apartment, there will likely be some space they’re free to personalize. Hanging photos of loved ones can be a great way of helping them feel comfortable and acclimate. You could even hang some of their favorite artwork from where they used to live to make this new space feel more familiar, like home.
2. Encourage Your Parent to Pick Up a New Hobby or Join a Group.
Most residential assisted living facilities in Hendersonville offer a range of groups and activities for residents to get involved in. Take a look through the activity calendar with your parent and encourage them to try one that takes their fancy. Joining a group can be the ideal way to meet new friends who share a mutual interest. If they’re a little nervous to do this, don’t worry! With most assisted living facilities offering communal mealtimes and plenty of space to socialize outside of organized groups, they’re likely to organically meet new friends anyway.
3. Visit Regularly.
Visiting your parent often in their first few months after moving to assisted living can be a great way of helping them settle in gradually. Having said this, consider what’s right for your parent personally. If you think promising regular visits will result in them sitting in their room and relying on you for socialization, it might be beneficial to limit visits initially – even if just for the first few weeks. This could encourage them to get out and meet new people, build new friendships, take advantage of community activities, and utilize the resources available to them.
4. Take Care of Yourself.
Moving a parent to assisted living can bring up a range of feelings for adult children, and it’s perfectly normal to experience mixed emotions. For example, you may feel relieved that your parent is going to be living somewhere with better safety provisions, but apprehensive that they won’t be happy.
In order to take care of your parent and help them through the process, you need to attend to your own needs as well; after all, you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re struggling, try talking to a member of the qualified caregivers like those at New Hope, they know how family members feel and will be glad to offer support to you both throughout the move.
The Bottom Line
During this time, both you and your parent are likely feeling a whole spectrum of emotions – often a cocktail of excitement, nerves, sadness and anticipation. All of this is expected, but there are steps you can take to make the process as seamless as possible.
And don’t forget, your parent’s new assisted living community is there to help. Ask them for more tips, and don’t be afraid to let them know what they can do to make the move easier. After all, you know your loved one best!