Moving is difficult no matter what age you are. The weeks leading up to the move can bring a rollercoaster of emotions. Sorting through closets, packing, and cleaning can be mentally and physically exhausting. While a new adventure might be exciting, the change and uncertainty that often comes along with moving can be more difficult to process for older adults.
For seniors, the transition from their private home to an assisted living community may be especially difficult because of what they may be leaving behind. This generation typically lived in the same home for decades. Their house may hold a lifetime of memories spent with their spouse, children, and grandchildren.
What can you do to help your senior loved one make a smooth transition to an assisted living community?
Planning should begin before the first box is packed.
6 Tips for Making a Smooth Transition to Assisted Living
- Research best practices for downsizing: Families often struggle to figure out the best way to downsize a senior loved one’s home. It can make the weeks and months leading up to a move more stressful than is necessary. Try researching online and asking friends for any advice they may have. Our Home Design Guide, for example, has tips about everything from designing the new space to clearing out the home.
- Recreate their familiar environment: While it might be tempting to sell your loved one’s old furniture and start fresh, they’ll likely settle in more quickly if their new environment looks and feels more like home. Make sure the furniture and household belongings they treasure most find a place in their new assisted living apartment.
- Start getting involved: Don’t wait until after your family member moves to encourage them to get involved in their new senior living community. In most cases, participating in life enrichment activities and community events before moving day is a better approach. Also ask the staff about periodically coming by for lunch or dinner so your loved one can meet and get to know fellow residents. This can also help ease their anxiety when moving day arrives.
- Schedule family visitors: The first few weeks following a move can be a juggling act for families. While you might be tempted to visit all day every day for a while, doing so might keep your older loved one from getting involved and making new friends. On the other hand, you don’t want them to feel abandoned when they are likely anxious and uncertain. It might help to set up a schedule for when friends and family will visit. This ensures a steady stream of visitors while still encouraging your family member to get involved in new activities.
- Plan a housewarming party: Another way to help ease the transition is by planning a party. It will give your senior loved one something to look forward to and a chance to show off their new home. Talk with the dining staff at the assisted living community to see if they can help arrange snacks.
- Prepare for the bumpy times: Despite all your best efforts, there will be some bumps along the way. Things will go wrong. Some days will be emotional. Remind yourself and your senior loved one it’s a normal part of this transition. As time goes by and your family member settles in, the good days will far outnumber the bad.
Take Our Care Questionnaire
If you are just beginning to search for a senior living community and aren’t quite sure what type of care your loved one needs, we have a tool you will find useful. The Sunrise Care Questionnaire can be completed in fewer than five minutes. It will walk you through a series of questions to help you discover what level of care will likely be the best fit based on your family member’s needs.
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