Transitioning your loved one to a senior living community can be difficult. The new environment will take some getting used to for your loved one, but rest assured that the initial discomfort will be temporary. To help ease the transition, we have gathered a few tips to help you strategize for a successful move and give you an idea of what to expect every step of the way.
Having to leave home is an emotionally turbulent experience for a senior, especially if they have lived there for a long time. Your loved one might be concerned about leaving their family behind, or they might feel like their independence is being taken away. This is all normal. It’s essential to put your loved one’s feelings and complaints into perspective. Listen to your loved one’s concerns and offer support and comfort. Listen to the emotions behind the words and provide positive reassurance. Validate their feelings and do your best to not let the guilt consume you. A few tips:
- Stay positive. Tour the community and point out its perks. Be excited about the possibilities and encourage your loved one to do the same.
- Lessen the surprise factor by involving your loved one in the process of choosing the community.
- Consider a respite stay before the move to help ease the transition and take away some of the fear of the unknown.
Need some talking points as you approach this delicate process? This AARP article offers some more pointers on how to put your loved one at ease with the big move.
Move-In Day Strategy
In advance of move-in day, you can prepare your loved one and your family for the transition. Do the research and take great care to find the community that is best for your loved one. Take into account their needs and care requirements, and find a community with amenities and services that are a fit for your loved one’s personality and interests. More tips:
- Align move-in day and the transition itself with your loved one’s best time of day. This sets them up for success as they get settled into their new environment.
- Help them make their new room their own by bringing framed photos of loved ones and their favorite decorations from home. Also be sure to use fabrics with colors they like. Filling the space with familiar items makes it easier for them to start seeing it as their own.
Emphasize the Positives
Positive thinking can do wonders. It’s important to be prepared for bad days but to also emphasize the positives during the transition to a senior living home. Your loved one will likely make negative comments or express dissatisfaction with something – or many things – along the way. Write down their comments and keep them in proper perspective. Determine how to best address the move in ways that will best resonate with your loved one. Point out the value of new community, new friends, and new neighbors. Staying positive also helps your loved one maintain a warm outlook.
All that said, expect setbacks. Your loved one may ask to return home, complain about their new neighbors, or experience feelings of loneliness. These moments may be heart-wrenching, but they are normal and will pass.
Embrace a New Lifestyle
Every family experiences unique circumstances, but understanding what you can expect when moving your loved one to a senior living home will ease the transition. It will take time, so be patient. Don’t be surprised if the first few weeks or months are tough. Eventually, your loved one will come to see this new community as home.