Steps to Prepare for the Transition to an Assisted Living Facility
Making the transition from the family home to an assisted living can be a daunting process for seniors. Logistically, it’s a little easier for someone already living in a condo or apartment, but there’s still a lot to consider.
If you’re helping your parents make such a move, you’ll want to be aware of both the emotional and material aspects of the transition. Assuming that everyone is on board with the idea, it’s time to get started. Even if you’re doing the groundwork, you’ll want to include mom and dad in some of the planning and decision-making.
- If your parents are still in a house – maybe even your childhood home – you’ll want to allow enough time to plan the transition so they don’t feel rushed. If you have siblings that are willing to help, it’s a nice idea for everyone to get together and to go through things. Moving to an assisted living requires quite a bit of downsizing, so this is a good time to pass on some items that another family member may want – whether it’s old pictures or the family china. Take some time to reminisce and reassure your parents that while they may be living somewhere new, other things will stay the same.
- If there is a lot of furniture and household goods left, you might want to consider an estate sale. It’s hard to let go, but being involved in the transition process can sometimes make it easier – and result in a few dollars for mom or dad to spend down in the convenience store or ice cream shop.
- Visit the new room or apartment several times before the move. Take measurements and observe where the windows, closets and bathroom door are located so you can plan the layout of the new space. Involve your parent in the logistics – where do they think the bed should go? Ask them which pictures they want to hang and where to put the extra towels.
- Find out what types of things you need to bring and what is provided by the assisted living facility. Try to bring familiar pictures and objects from home. Resist the temptation to go buy a brand new bedspread. Your parents will settle in faster if they’re surrounded by things that feel like home. There won’t be room for 15 photo albums, it might be nice to have one or two that they can look through and show off the kids and grandkids to the other residents.
- Decide if you’ll need the help of a moving company or if you can do it yourselves. Be sure to pack up everything ahead of time. You don’t want the stress of deciding what to keep and what to throw as you’re headed out the door. When moving day comes, some seniors may insist on being there to direct the move. In most cases, however, it’s probably best for them to leave the house and wait with you at the assisted living. Here, they can be involved in deciding how to set up their new home.
- After the move, encourage your parents to get out of the room and meet their new neighbors. Get to know the other residents at meals and activities. It’s tempting – and human nature – to sit in their room, but the more involved they become, the more this new place will feel like home.