The decision to move an aging parent into an assisted living community can be difficult for the entire family, but particularly adult children. But, now that you’ve decided it’s time and you’ve chosen the right community to meet your loved one’s needs, you’re ready to move forward.
Some ways to make the transition into a an assisted living community to go more smoothly include:
- Deciding what to bring in advance
- Moving belongings into their new home a couple days early
- Encouraging social interaction
- Helping your loved one have a positive emotional transition
Decide What to Bring
It’s a good idea to start packing well before the move-in date. Talk with your family member and find out which personal items are important to them, but avoid bringing too many of the same item such as coats. Unlike smaller items such as clothes, keepsakes, and photographs, larger things like furniture will require some planning. Ask the assisted living community what furniture, if any, will be provided.
Some families choose to furnish apartments with brand new furniture (and that’s fine!). However, be sure to bring some familiar items too. This will make your loved one feel more comfortable and create an “at-home” feeling in their new apartment.
Move Belongings Early
Find out if it’s possible to move in your loved one’s possessions a day or two before the actual move-in date. This extra time will give you the opportunity to set up their apartment by unpacking, assembling furniture, or running errands. As a result, you can spend their first actual day at the community focused on helping them adjust to their new home.
Assistance may be available from the community to help you with the move in. Many assisted living communities have staff members on hand who can help move furniture or other bulky items. Ask for a floor plan to show how the apartment should be organized and arranged: this will make setup easier and faster for you and help your loved one adjust more quickly.
Encourage Social Interaction
A great way to help older adults acclimate to their new surroundings is to get them engaged in activities at the assisted living community. Focus on the opportunities they will have to make new friends and participate in events. Ask for an activities calendar and find the events that they will enjoy most. Also, help them meet new neighbors by joining your loved one for their first meal in the dining room.
Help Make the Emotional Transition a Positive Experience
Moving is an emotional experience for all of us—even more so for an older adult. The move to assisted living can feel overwhelming and daunting, but it can also be an exciting change and positive experience that should be embraced. Both of you may experience many different emotions throughout the process, but these feelings are normally temporary. It’s important to recognize these feelings and find ways to embrace the move.
Let your aging parent know that you understand this transition is hard for them, and that you are here to discuss and listen to their feelings with respect. Be upbeat. Positive reinforcement will help your loved one focus on the benefits they will gain from moving to assisted living.
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