The decision to move a parent into an assisted living community is life-changing. Though you may have decided that moving into a facility designed for their needs and lifestyle is the best choice for them, the process of transitioning into a different community can be a difficult one. Helping your parent move alleviates the stress involved in becoming comfortable in a new space, and the following list is a compilation of advice to smooth out the journey.
Have Them Keep an Open Mind
Experts state that adjusting to assisted living can take between three and six months. Although this is the usual window for an average resident, everyone is different. Be patient with your parent and bear in mind the reasons and benefits of the move. Focus on the increased safety, the quality of professional care, the peace of mind for both adult child and parent – these can be stable ideas which ground you in your decision-making and motivate the instinct to adapt to a new living space.
Don’t Harbor Guilt
Acknowledging the difficult parts of transitioning to an assisted living community is important, and while you may want to wash the process in a rosy light, this can sometimes undermine the anxieties of both adult child and the parent can have. Listening to each other’s fears and negative thoughts can be cathartic in alleviating both and it can help you get through the hardest stage of suspense before and during the move. Very often, family members can notice guilty feelings arising throughout the process, and can then neglect open communication about assisted living to push these uncomfortable feelings away. Ultimately, however, this is not healthy for the family as a whole unit, and the reasons why should ease guilt.
There is nothing harder than moving into a new home and feeling lonely. Without the comforts of familiar space, new residents can feel vulnerable and hole themselves up in their rooms. This, however, is a slippery slope and can result in anxious and unsociable behaviors, and have a really bad impact on the parent’s mental health. Making new friends, or even just acquaintances in the beginning, establishing some friendly faces to converse with can really help ease the process as a whole.
Bring Some Sentimental Items
Photos, trinkets, a couple of cushions – we strongly recommend bringing some of these personal items, as they can work to make the space seem more familiar and like a home. Having items that have personal meaning within the residence can create an ownership of the room, and make it feel like it belongs to them, rather than them being a guest of sorts.
Communicate with the Staff
The staff in assisted living have a crucial role in the care and overall health of the parent, but they also play a key role in the adjustment period. In a lot of communities, there will be one-on-one meetings to discuss the move and what the different facilities can offer for the individual. This attention can make the resident feel taken care of and more comfortable in their new home – the attentiveness and expertise of the staff can provide valuable information as well as an atmosphere of friendliness. Therefore, during the move into assisted living, be sure to make a conscious effort to say hello to the staff; if they are busy, a simple greeting will suffice, or if not, you can have a longer chat to make the parent feel more secure and safe in the space.
Research the Right Community for You
Researching thoroughly before the move can ease a lot of anxieties about assisted living, and means that you will more confident in your decision about whether it will be a good fit for your parent. There are some fantastic options; Overland Court Senior Living for example, is an assisted living and memory care community which offers both a quality of care and range of activities to suit the health conditions and personality of many potential residents.
Remember to Visit… But Not Too Often!
Visiting is an important aspect of making sure the parent does not feel forgotten or left behind. Only family members know how much an individual needs contact for, but while we do not recommend smothering the parent with attention (which can often appear guilty or falsely bright), visits can really make a parent feel appreciated. In the beginning, frequent visits are advised to prevent the parent from feeling lonely or neglected – it also may be easier for them to meet people within the community with a social buffer or two, or perhaps the family members can make some introductions themselves. However, it is important not to make the parent depend on you for their socialization. If they are waiting for you to arrive, they are less likely to take matters into their own hands and socialize within the community.
Keep in Touch
For some families, visiting frequently may be a difficult task, either due to distance or an unaccommodating work schedule. This can be fine, and gives your parent the space they will need to branch out and gain independence. However, when visiting is not possible, phone calls or video chats – even just a few messages throughout the week – can stop your parent from feeling abandoned and forgotten, and make the adjustment period much easier knowing they have family that think of them and care for them. Keeping in touch with the staff as well is a good idea, for updates about the parent’s health which they may not want to discuss, and ensuring the parent is sociable and happy.
Hopefully this article has provided information and insight relevant to your needs, and will make the transition into assisted living not only easier, but in some ways an enjoyable process. Your parent may initially feel like moving is a loss – a loss of independence, of youth, of their sentimental homes, and of their closeness to friends and families. You may also doubt your decisions, but with time and adjustment, the benefits will become more and more apparent, as long as the process is done with communication and an open mind.