Perhaps one of the hardest decisions you’ll ever make will involve moving your aging parents into an assisted living community. The Assisted Living move can be a very emotional time for the family, especially for your aging parents in so many levels. During this process, try to be very patient and understanding. Remember, your parents are leaving a place they’ve called home for many years.
It’s normal for them to be sad because they’ll be leaving a place where they are comfortable, know their neighbors and have fond memories. They probably are starting to feel that they are slowly losing their independence and freedom. This can be very stressful and emotional to seniors and it’s sometimes referred to as their “grieving time.”
As a family caregiver, wouldn’t you want to know how you can make the assisted living move easier? Many times a senior ends up moving during or after a health crisis. Easing the discomfort is possible when you’re aware of things that can help make the transition smooth.
Here are things to consider to help make the Assisted Living Move easier:
Listen – The feelings of loss and fear are real to your loved one. Listening intently will let your aging parents know that you value their feelings and validate them as a person. Grieving is a process that you can help along by listening. So it is very important that you listen to them. Once they know you care about how they feel, they’ll be more open to your positive comments about the good things they’ll experience when they move-in to their new assisted living home.
What to take along– Having your parents most treasured furnishings and mementos will make their new assisted living apartment feel more like home. Try giving your parents suggestions on what will fit well and what probably needs to be left behind. Be sure to involve them in this step to make them feel more comfortable. There will be things they treasure that cannot be taken along. Suggest they give them away to their loved ones and dear friends. A garage sale might be a good idea. Whatever is left over can be brought to goodwill for donation.
If your loved one has a pet they love dearly, do your best to see if they can bring it along. Do your research. A lot of the Assisted Living Communities are pet-friendly and would allow dogs. Pets offer elders so much comfort and companionship. If they can bring their pets along, it will make a huge difference. It will definitely help ease the assisted living transition.
Familiarity can breed contentment– If at all possible, make arrangements for your aging loved ones to visit their new “home” several times before they make the assisted living move. Introduce them to the staff and residents. Bring them to lunch at the assisted living community couple of times before the move. Most of the assisted living communities offer complimentary lunch and dinners so seniors can try their food before they make a final decision. Be sure to ask about this. Most seniors consider delicious gourmet meals as one of the highlights of their day. If they end up liking the food, it’s one more reason for them to look forward to the assisted living move.
Ask the Activity Director for a list of events and activities. Check the activities calendar ahead of time to find out what event would be interesting for your parents to participate in. This will also give them the opportunity to get to know a few of the residents in the assisted living community. If your loved one lives too far to visit, make a short video or give them a scrapbook to help familiarize them with the assisted living community. You could also include a few photos of their new room and maybe some of the “neighbors.” If your elderly parent is a regular worshipper, it would be helpful to find out what places of worship are close by and if the assisted living community offers Sunday services. Many churches and assisted living communities offer transportation to Sunday services. Be sure to include this information in your scrapbook or video.
Involving the family– Talking to all your family members can help reinforce the information you’ve given your elderly parents. Ask for their opinions on what might help mom and/or dad to make a smooth assisted living transition. Encourage the family to visit as often as possible during the first few months. Find out the visiting hours and guest policies in the assisted living community. Maybe find out if they can dine for free, if not ask about additional charges. It will be good idea if you can have lunch or dinner with your aging parents from time to time.
Moving Day– You can make a valuable contribution during the actual assisted living move. Being there to direct traffic and intercede for your parent will ease their stress and anxiety. Pack a “just in case bag” with their daily medications, a change of clothes and any small valuables they may worry about misplacing. Plan on staying for a couple of hours or maybe have lunch with them before you leave.
You are so important to your elderly parents during the assisted living move so make sure that you are there for them. Be sure to get plenty of sleep the night prior to the big day. Stay hydrated and take a break when you need to. Do your best to stay positive and pass on that great attitude to your loved one.
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