If you’re planning to move a loved one into senior living, transitioning to an assisted community doesn’t need to be stressful.
And that’s key as stress is the primary factor that triggers most seniors to think negatively about a shift to assisted living. More often than not, reluctance to move is not because your relative doesn’t want to leave home. They usually understand the need for this and look forward to some much-needed help.
Uncertainty and anxiety about a move, on the other hand, can drag them down unless properly managed.
So, we’ll look at 10 important tips today to help you ease that transition after first highlighting the three broad categories transitioning falls under:
- Physical Transition
- Emotional Transition
- Social Transition
This is perhaps the most easily managed part of the inevitable change looming.
We’ll look below at how you can ease the logistics of relocating.
Once installed, the adjustment to a new living space shouldn’t be problematic either. Everything from bathroom design to steps and seating will be designed with the elderly in mind. We’ve also got some handy hints on streamlining to make the new space feel like home right below, too.
As with many things in life, it’s the emotional side of the equation that can be harder to deal.
Make sure your loved one is confident that all the support they need to adjust to assisted living will be there on hand whenever they need it. Make it abundantly clear that you and the family are there to support them as well.
Try to pivot the focus onto what’s being gained rather than on a perceived loss.
While it’s not essential for your loved one to dive deep into activities on day one, it’s important to encourage them to gradually develop a new social network within the community.
Isolation can create deep feelings of despair and there’s simply no need for this in a community with others in the same boat.
If your loved one has suffered mobility problems and found it tough to maintain their old social life, they should find this element of transitioning entirely positive. They won’t need to go out to meet people since everything is in place at the facility itself.
Be prepared to address all those factors involved in transitioning.
Beyond that, there are a number of simple strategies you can adopt to ensure the whole process of moving a loved one to senior living goes as seamlessly as possible.
10 Ways to Ease The Transition to Senior Living
1) Establish an Ongoing Dialogue
What you should bear in mind here is that you shouldn’t think about simply having that conversation.
While it’s obviously vital to initiate that first discussion about the possibility of shifting to a senior living community when the time is right, this should be the beginning of an ongoing and open dialogue.
Consider that initial conversation as an ice breaker and make sure you do more listening than talking. Hear out your loved one’s concerns and fears, taking note if they press upon you their acceptance of the need for some help.
If you’re convinced that assisted living would be the best solution but you meet with resistance, don’t use that opening conversation as a chance to exert pressure. Take things slowly and keep talking.
The decision needs to come after proper consideration by all parties.
2) Make The Decision Together
As outlined above, there will be a physical and emotional side to the transitional period so make sure you’re on hand to help every step of the way.
Once a decision has been made, emotions are likely to run higher than ever. Be supportive and empathetic: after all, you’ll be in the same position yourself one of these days.
Again, don’t rush things here. Even if you’ve decided in principle that a move is appropriate, you shouldn’t rush choosing a facility. Make sure any communities you look at are close enough to home to make visiting easy. Ensure that the facility is tailored to what your loved one wants from life.
Once you’ve agreed on the facility that makes the best fit, there’s no substitute for scoping it out in advance.
3) Familiarize Yourself With The Facility
Maybe you visited the facility before deciding upon the right one. If so, that’s a great start but don’t feel shy about heading to the community again once you’re sure it ticks all boxes.
You should ideally make regular visits along with your loved one so you can all slowly accustom yourselves to the upcoming change.
Take the time to speak with staff and meet as many residents as you can. By doing this in advance, when moving day comes, there will be a welcome air of familiarity rather than fear of walking into the unknown.
4) Start Downsizing in Advance
You should by now have a firm idea of the size of the living space your loved one will be moving into. You can use this to assess how much stuff needs downsizing. Taking charge of these logistics long before the day of the big move will remove a great deal of stress.
Help your loved one take care of this and use it as a precious bonding experience and a chance to reminiscence over all those belongings with a special place in your hearts.
Determine which possessions might be better off sold, which could meaningfully be handed down as heirlooms and which could be passed on to thrift stores or someone in need.
With all that taken care of, it will be much easier to laser in on the possessions your loved one really needs in order to start the next phase of their life.
5) Know Exactly What To Pack
With downsizing complete, the job of packing should by definition be far easier. You’ll have much less clutter to wade through and none of the stress of last minute packing to negotiate.
Speak closely with your contact at the community so you can double down on what’s already provided and scratch this from your packing list. Of course, not everything served up will meet your loved one’s tastes so be sure to establish this by making another visit so you can see what’s required and what can stay behind.
6) Call For Reinforcements
When moving day comes around, call in for help from all the family. This can be used as another great bonding exercise.
Rather than seeing this as a sad day, view it instead as the exciting beginning of another phase in life. Appreciate that your loved one might very well be relieved to be on the verge of receiving all the help they need whenever they need it.
7) Personalize The Living Space
Once you’ve installed your loved one in the senior living community, make sure you take the time to work with them and completely personalize their new living space.
The key here is to recreate a home from home and to make sure everything is tailored to suit.
Bring along some scented candles or air fresheners so you can get rid of the sterility that often comes with this type of space. Soft furnishings will introduce an air of homeliness.
Ensure that all your loved one’s favorite possessions are in place and don’t leave until it’s looking just like home!
8) Encourage Your Loved One to Embrace The New Environment
With the new living space set up to perfection, it’s time to gently encourage your elderly relative to make the very most of their environment beyond those four walls.
While they don’t need to immediately immerse themselves in every conceivable activity on offer, it’s sound practice to seek out their immediate neighbors and to circulate so they can get the lie of the land.
9) Schedule Plenty of Advance Visits
Establishing a new routine across the board is paramount and it’s a smart move to slot in plenty of visits at a mutually convenient time so your loved one’s diary fills up with things to look forward to.
You can get all the family in on the act so, rather than feeling isolated and alienated, your elderly relative will be feeling the love instead.
10) Be Ready with Full and Ongoing Support
To round out, it is important to make it abundantly clear that you’re here for them every step of the way during this daunting but exciting journey.
Between the support you can bring to the table and that on offer in the new senior living facility, this phase of your loved one’s life should be filled with excitement and come with enhanced levels of support across the board.
Embrace the change and help your loved one to do the same.
When you are looking for an assisted living facility in New Mexico to help you, Landmark Senior Living is one organization that is dedicated to providing your loved one with everything they need to make their stay as enjoyable as possible. If you are interested in learning more about what Landmark has to offer, please visit our website.