As we age, most of us will need some sort of assistance to remain as independent as possible. If loved ones are showing signs they could use a little help around the house, now might be the time to start talking with your aging parents about assisted living communities in your area. Researching now will also give you an idea of what moving to assisted living costs.
If you’ve already found a senior living community option that works best for your elderly parents, this blog post offers a moving to assisted living checklist to help make the move less stressful for everyone.
Take Care of Yourself
Making the decision about your parents future can create feelings that you should have done more. Or if you were a better child, you’d be able to care for them in their own home. But when you have other responsibilities like family and career, it’s easy to get stretched pretty thin. While having some feelings of guilt is normal, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. If you find yourself feeling guilty, talk with a trusted friend or family member. It’s also important to remember these three things:
- Safety first: Your loved one now has access to 24-hour care in a protective and supportive homelike setting.
- Care by design: Your family member will benefit from the structure and stimulation of an assisted living or long-term care community. They’ll have daily activities and opportunities to socialize with other seniors with similar life experience.
- Self care: This is a chance for you to take care of your own physical, spiritual, social and emotional needs that you may have put on the back burner while you cared for your loved one.
Coping with Moving Your Parents to Assisted Living
As you and your loved ones adjust to this new way of life, here are some suggestions to help you manage the changes.
- Take your time: It can take three to six months for your loved one to adjust to their new lifestyle. Focus on why you made this decision: safety, health and security. Keeping the big picture in mind will help you through the rough patches.
- Schedule visits: Will your loved one socialize with other residents more if you’re around, or will they just stay in their room until you visit? You know your parent best, so figuring out when to visit them and how often can help them better make the adjustment.
- Band together: Once you determine your visitation routine, invite other family members and friends to visit your loved one. This ensures they get to visit with more people who have different ways of socializing and give your loved one more to look forward to.
- Two steps forward, one back: It’s normal for your loved one to be enjoying life one visit and the next to say they want to come home. It’s all part of the adjustment period, but they can get through it with your help.
- Build familiarity: Surround your loved one with their personal belongings. While they may not have room for their dining room set, you can bring in family photos, favorite books, pieces of art, and other familiar things from their home.
- Keep advocating: If your loved one seems hesitant to speak up about their needs and interests, it’s important for you to keep doing it for them.
- Know the staff: Don’t assume the staff will know your parent as well as you do. If you have ways to motivate your loved one to socialize or participate in activities, tell the staff. They can also tell you things maybe your loved one isn’t sharing with you.
Moving to Assisted Living Checklist
Here’s a helpful list to show you how to get your parents ready for assisted living:
- Be realistic: Plan to give yourself and your loved one time to work at a more leisurely pace. If you can avoid it, don’t try to downsize an entire home in a weekend. A more comfortable pace will reduce anxiety and give your loved one a chance to reminisce about time spent together in their house.
- Create a floor plan layout: After your loved one selects their residence, ask the staff for a detailed copy of the floor plan. Make sure dimensions for each room are marked. Then measure all their furniture so you can create a layout of each room and decide what will fit.
- Identify their favorite items: See which items your loved one cherishes most and won’t make a move without. If there are family heirlooms that won’t fit in their new apartment, ask if there’s someone in the family they would like to pass the piece on to.
- Begin in the least used rooms: By starting the sorting/downsizing process in the rooms your family member doesn’t use very often, it’ll be easier to decide what to do with certain possessions and avoid long discussions about what should happen.
- Eliminate maybes: Set up and label boxes based on where each item will end up like “Move,” “Donate,” “Family” and “Trash.” As you go through each closet or drawer, sort items into these boxes. Keep going through your “Maybe” piles unitil everything is sorted into one of the other four categories.
- Get to know the community: Preparing to move can take longer than you expect. To help your loved one get to know the residents and staff, encourage them to attend events and activities before they move.
- Make a schedule: Once you know when the move will happen, create a moving schedule. Remember, some times of the month are busier (and more expensive) than others. If you pick an off day, you may get a better rate. Use your moving date to schedule everything else and to arrange for utilities to be turned off.
- Moving day box: Put together a box of essentials and valuables — like medications, important papers, snacks, beverages and other necessities — you don’t want the movers to handle.
Finding the Right Option Matters
If you’re just beginning to research assisted living facilities for your loved one, the sooner you get started, the easier it will be. Our Find a Community tool can provide a list of local options for you to consider.