Assisted living is designed to aid seniors who are having trouble with activities of daily living, but do not require 24-hour skilled care. Making the transition can be difficult on many levels. Coming to terms with diminished independence and reduced capacity to care for one’s self can be an unwelcome reality that is hard to accept. Leaving the home and paring down possessions can be painful. As a family member, you naturally want to do what you can to ease this transition and make the person feel more hopeful about this next phase. Here are some ways that you can do just that.
Visit the Community Often Before Moving In
If your loved one will be remaining in her home for a period before moving into the facility—which is often the case because of waiting lists and other factors—making frequent visits can help prepare her for the transition. She can get familiar with the staff, get to know other residents and take part in activities. This can help ease some of the anxiety that comes with moving into an ‘’unknown’’ situation.
Acknowledge Your Loved One’s Feelings
When people are feeling badly about something, in our efforts to make them feel better, we often diminish or dismiss their feelings without meaning to. We try to point out the positives or tell them not to focus on the bad things. While this certainly has its place, it is also important to let your loved one express his feelings , and more importantly, for you to really listen to what he is saying and acknowledge it. This is a difficult time, and it is natural that your loved one is not feeling thrilled about these developments. It is okay for him to feel this way.
Prepare Well in Advance
Reducing stress is paramount in a situation that is probably already fraught with emotions, from your guilt to your loved one’s grief over the life he no longer has. Prepare the move well in advance. It is likely you will require some in-depth combing through of possessions. What will he be taking? What will be discarded? What can be sold or given to family or friends? Leaving these matters until the last minute is a recipe for disaster.
Replicate Aspects of the Old Home as Much as Possible
The more you can make your loved one’s space resemble the space they are probably very reluctantly leaving, the better. Choose items to take that can help recreate certain aspects of the home. While it may not be possible to create an exact copy due to space restraints, you can get pretty close if you add the right touches. For example, you might hang up pictures in the living room in the same way they were in her home. Get the same nightstand and lamp to put beside the bed.
Do Not Visit Too Often
Naturally, you want to help your loved one transition to her new surroundings, and you do not want her to think that now that she is here, she will never see you again. But, during the first month or so, it may not be a good idea to come there every single day for hours. This will make it harder for her to get used to being there, and she will be less motivated to meet new people and get involved in the community.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who has blogged about a variety of senior care issues; she recommends following the link to learn more about Chicago senior housing.