Moving Parents into Assisted Living - Tips and Suggestions
Moving a parent or a loved one into a retirement or assisted living facility is one of the toughest things that a person has to do. It is stressful for everyone involved, and takes a lot of time and energy.
Having recently helped my parents with this transition, I have become familiar with the many steps involved, and have come up with a list of tips to help make it easier for everyone.
One of the most important things to remember is that every situation is different. Keep a line of communication open between the facility, your loved one and yourself.
Also remember that every facility has different regulations and amenities. Know what they are.
I have divided the tips into three sections. They are based on my personal experience and are not meant to be, and should not be, used as legal advice:
- Tips for the person who is moving
- Tips for family members
- Packing tips
I hope they help make the transition a little easier for you and your loved one.
Tips for the person who is moving
Always keep in mind that this is a trying time for your loved one.
Not only is the person leaving their beloved home, one that they may have lived in for most of their adult life, they are usually leaving behind family, friends and even pets.
The person is also changing their way of life and are aware that this will, in most cases, be the last home that they will live in.
To make this transition as easy as possible for your loved one, keep these tips in mind.
Remember that these tips may not apply to everyone, but if your family member is still capable of certain things, then they may help.
If able, your loved one should be included in the planning of the move, including tours of the facilities and meetings with staff.
Ask them what they want to take with them to their new home and try to include as many things that they want as possible.
Go through keepsakes together and choose some that can be kept.
If able, let them help pack and unpack boxes and organize their new space. Let them decide where to put their items.
Tips for family members
It is very easy to forget the family of the patient during the moving process. We are busy making living arrangements. We are also dealing with a loved one who may no longer be able to take care of themselves.
There are usually physical and emotional demands being placed upon us, and we are dealing with legal and financial issues as well.
This time is just as stressful on the family as it is on the patient, only in different ways.
Make the move special by:
- Having a grandchild draw a pretty picture for their wall.
- Making a scrapbook or photo album with special photos.
- Bringing them a gift basket with their favorite toiletries.
- Giving them one or two new outfits.
- Giving them a pretty plant for their new home.
- Leaving them a care package with some of their favorite baked goodies.
Have all paperwork up to date and in order
The amount of paperwork that you will be signing and reviewing can be overwhelming. Having all of the patients' financial and legal papers organized will help the process go smoothly.
There may be all sorts of appointments at the beginning of a move. Keeping a calendar will help you keep organized. Even if your loved one is able to understand everything, you want to attend these appointments with them to help them keep their affairs in order.
Take a break
Having visited 3 different hospitals over a one month period made me realize that I needed a break. Take a day to get caught up on your own things.
Get help from other family members
Even if family is out of town, they may be able to come up for a weekend to help with packing or moral support.
Let family and friends know how to get in touch with the person
People will appreciate staying in touch with friends and receiving cards.
Get to know facility staff
Knowing who to call is a great help.
Tough at times, just remember that you are doing the best thing for your loved one.
Give your loved one time
Don't rush them when sorting and packing. If you feel they are getting stressed, step back and take a break.
Basic items to pack
Clothes and outerwear
Small amount of cash
Sheets and towels
Pens and paper
Notecards and stamps
Favorite jewelry items (not too valuable)
Glasses and sunglasses
A few plates, cups and utensils
What your loved one takes with them depends on a number of things.
- Size of the apartment/room they are moving to
- Amenities of the apartment/room, i.e. does it have a kitchen or private bathroom
- Abilities of your loved one
- Roommate situation, if applicable
- Rules of the retirement facility
Unless it is an emergency admittance, chances are good that you have seen the room that your parent will be moving to. This will give you a good idea of types and numbers of things you'll be able to pack.
Remember that every person moving to an assisted living facility has different abilities and ailments. In addition, each location has different rules, regulations and facilities.
Try to keep all of these things in mind when packing for the move.
Don't take too much
Things can always be brought to the facility at a later date.
Check to make sure all of the items you are bringing are allowed.
Make a list of what you are taking
A list can be checked to see if something was forgotten.
Most facilities will provide people with a basic checklist to help you get started.
Leave pricey valuables at home
Unfortunately things do get taken from time to time, even at the most reputable facilities.
As a general rule this won't apply to people moving into private independent living communities.
Once they are moved in
Once your family member is settled into their new home, you may think that your role is finished. It is not. The first months can be extremely difficult. New residents, along with family still at home, need to adjust to the new living arrangements.
- First and foremost, don't stop visiting. Your loved one may be frightened, lonely and sad. They will appreciate your visits.
- If appropriate, bring youngsters to visit. A smile from a child can brighten anyone's day and other residents will appreciate it as well.
- If allowed, bring their pet to visit them. Many facilities have communal or outdoor areas where pets can visit.
- If they are able, take them outside to restaurants or take them back home. It is important for them to keep connected with the outside world.
Moving into a retirement or assisted living facility is extremely difficult for everyone. You and your loved one will probably experience a range of emotions, from relief to sadness. There will be times when you may be frightened or even angry.
In the long run, you can rest assured that you are doing the best thing you can for your loved one.
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