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Thought Leader Series: Easing the Transition to Assisted Living

Growing up is exciting. Starting a family is incredible. Having grandchildren is a blessing. But getting older when you need help can be difficult. It can especially be hard when a family member needs to move to an assisted living or other care facility. It is a difficult conversation to have and a complicated move to make.

Easing the Transition to Assisted Living

1. Get Help

Moving a loved one to an assisted living facility takes much planning and work. Ask for help from other family members and friends. Downsizing an entire home can be overwhelming, but when family comes to help, it's easier and much more personal than hiring movers.

Encourage friends and family to visit often before and after the move. This time can be emotionally difficult for you and your parent. If either of you feels sad, anxious, or depressed about the move, don't hesitate to reach out for help from a counselor or loved ones.

2. Visit Before

Before the final move takes place, be sure to go with your parent to the facility. Visit often so you both can learn the facility, meet new people, and become familiar with the schedule. Become acquainted with the staff and get assurance that your parent will be well taken care of. Make visits routinely to help you adjust to visiting your parents at their new residence.

3. Make Informed Decisions

Part of the difficulty of moving to an assisted living facility is the idea that a parent is losing independence. Be sure to include them in every decision regarding their ongoing care. Research the facilities together and get feedback.

Look online, ask current residents, and talk with staff about the facility to get their opinions. Talk about and agree on the location, keeping in mind travel time, nearby stores, and visitation rules and schedules. Draw up a blueprint of the room they will be living in. Use cut-outs to represent furniture and “decorate.” It also helps you know what to include when downsizing for the move.

4. Personalize

Moving to a new place is difficult for anyone. A way to make the move easier is to make it as much like home as possible. Be sure your parent is involved in downsizing. Let them reminisce while packing their keepsakes. It's a great coping skill to help with the change. Recreate their bedroom just like it was. Pictures, lamps, furniture should resemble home or close to it. Include favorite books or candles to make it feel and smell homey.

5. Get Involved

While visiting the facility, find activities that will be available for your parent. Encourage them to be as involved as they can be. To help your transition, try to attend as many family-inclusive activities as possible. Help them make friends at the facility, and remind them of past interests. To help occupy both your minds and establish a bond, start something together: work on a puzzle, take an online course together, or start a workout routine or book club. It establishes a comfortable routine.

Admitting that we need help is difficult. For older people, it can be difficult to give up some independence. It is important to make the transition as easy as possible while remembering the difficult time you both may have. Making it comfortable, communicating, and trying to keep it as normal as possible will help in the transition.

For answers to other questions about senior care, check out our caregiving guide.

Lorena Brockman is a blogger for JennsBlahBlahBlog.com and has notable know-how in blogging, travel, fashion, and has been deemed “Greatest Auntie Ever” by many. To learn more about Lorena, visit her company's blog at JennsBlahBlahBlog.com.

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