After spending time with my mother over the holidays, my brother and I realized it might be time to transition to assisted living. We have found a community we like, but we aren’t sure how to make the move happen. Can you give us some advice about the logistics? “ – Sally from Kennesaw

If you have found a facility that you like, congratulations! That is half the battle. I talk to many families this time of year that are in a similar situation as yours, realizing that your loved one may no longer be able to live independently.

Finding a facility that works for your senior’s needs can be challenging, but getting your loved one moved in and settled is a separate issue that can sometimes get overlooked. These tips can make that transition to assisted living easier for you and your senior.

8 Tips for a Thoughtful Transition to Assisted Living

  1. Plan a Visit – Before the move, take your loved one to the new community to see it. Have a meal there or participate in a planned activity to get a sense of the environment and introduce your loved one to other residents.
  2. Downsize With Purpose – Decide what your senior can take to the new facility and what you should keep, sell, donate, and give or throw away. Involve your senior in some capacity to give him or her some sense of control in the process. If your loved one is overwhelmed by downsizing, wait until he or she moves in to do the bulk of this task.
  3. Create a Comfortable Environment – Check with the new facility’s administrators to see what furniture they supply and what you can bring from your loved one’s home. Include items like a favorite overstuffed chair, framed photos, or a small kitchen table and chairs if the new room can accommodate it. Keeping the space familiar is especially important for seniors with dementia, so they recognize it as their home.
  4. Check on Utilities – Make sure your senior has phone, Wi-Fi, or cable service in the new facility. The last thing you want is to assume these utilities are included and find out your senior may have to wait days for television or internet capabilities. While you’re at it, you may want to discontinue those services at the old home.
  5. Hire a Packing Company – Some facilities may offer moving services, but if not, check with local companies to see if anyone specializes in senior moves. It will be less stressful for you and your loved one to have someone else do the heavy lifting and let you concentrate on the details. Pack essentials, such as medications, toiletries, and a few clothing changes, to take along if you cannot set up the new room right away.
  6. Meet the Neighbors – Take your senior door to door to meet the residents nearby. Any transition to assisted living can be smoother with friendly people to talk to or dine with. Who knows, your loved one may begin a new friendship with other seniors who have been in the same position before you.
  7. Get To Know the Staff – Make sure you and your senior meets everyone who provides care and other services, from the dining staff to the directors. The employees are happy to get to know you and see how they can help your loved one get settled.
  8. Spend Time Together – Plan to visit often, and ask other friends and family members to visit as well. Your loved one may feel lonely at first, but with visitors coming over to show support, your senior may feel that sense of connection beyond the walls of the new facility.

Patience and Compassion Goes a Long Way

Any transition to assisted living or elsewhere needs time to adjust. Your senior may feel lonesome or sad, and he or she may even have setbacks because of the move. Whenever change happens, it brings along growing pains, so acknowledge how your loved one feels and find ways to support or distract him or her.

It can take up to six months before your senior feels at home in the new facility. Gently push your loved one to participate in activities, fitness, or socialization, but be understanding when he or she may not feel like it.

Another thing to remember is that some of these tips may not be possible in our current pandemic state. The best thing to do is to communicate with the facility staff before the move to see what the transition looks like right now and how they help your loved one adjust while minimizing exposure to Covid-19. They have been dealing with this for two years now, so they may have protocols in place to help with the move and change.

Hopefully, these suggestions can make the transition to assisted living a smooth one for your family.

Best of luck!


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