Like so many major transitions in life, moving a parent or a loved one from a familiar home into a Senior Living Community is about much more than the practical details like what to pack. There’s a significant emotional component for both you and your parent, and it’s not always easy or smooth to take that next step.
As the adult child, you may feel the shift in responsibility and it can be overwhelming. In many families, daughters and/or sons take on the role of caregivers as parents age, and this can feel challenging, especially if you’re also taking care of your own children, working, and all the other responsibilities that come with life. But preparation and knowing what to expect can go a long way toward not only easing worries but also celebrating this change.
Transitioning to a Senior Living Community can be wonderful for your parent, or loved one, giving them a chance to explore new activities, make new friends, pursue all kinds of interests, and thrive in their new environment. This guide will provide you and your entire family with some suggestions and tips so you can embrace this fresh new opportunity.
Know The Options
The days of cookie-cutter retirement homes are over. Senior Living Communities have evolved into a wide range of options when it comes to community living. When you’re considering the transition, here are some factors to keep in mind as you’re doing your research.
- Care needs: What type of care does your loved one need now, and in the future? That might involve some simple help getting dressed, or bathing. Help with medication management, or more complex memory care assistance.
- Location: Does your loved one want to be close to family so you can stop in regularly and enjoy time together? If you don’t live near each other, your parent may find it more important to be close to familiar surroundings and their regular doctors rather than move to a new area. However, most of today’s Senior Living Communities provide onsite primary care and specialty doctors such as podiatrists, dentists and hearing aid specialists.
- Activities: What hobbies and interests does your parent, or loved one have or has always wanted to explore? Senior Living can boast an exciting array of options, especially if they have been feeling lonely or isolated. Looking at these choices is one of the best ways to feel excited about the transition.
Finding the right fit can take time and effort, but it’s worth it. When a parent looks forward to the move it can feel easier for you too.
Keep Being Open and Talking Honestly
Ideally, you and your loved one should be making this choice together. Even though you, as the adult child, might be in charge of most of the arrangements, your parent will appreciate a sense of independence and control about the transition. That means you need to keep the communication going strong and talk honestly with each other about both negative and positive emotions since that can help in the transition process.
For example, your parent might be looking forward to the benefits of a Senior Living Community – like a chance to participate in their favorite activities and the relief of not doing housework and lawn care anymore – but still feel a level of sadness or grief about leaving a beloved home behind. That’s completely normal.
Downplaying those feelings by emphasizing only the happy ones makes it harder to work through those difficult emotions. Be supportive and understanding, while still guiding the conversation in productive ways. Be honest about your feelings too. Many adult children feel conflicted about having to take on more responsibility or may feel anxious about making the “wrong choice” when it comes to care needs. Talking it all through with your parent can help ease those concerns. Don’t forget to talk about the good stuff too! It’s also natural to feel excitement about the possibilities ahead. End a conversation or visit on an upbeat note, feeling a sense of forward momentum.
Planning for the Little Things
Transitioning to a Senior Living Community can feel like a very big deal, because it is. To reduce that sense of a potentially overwhelming change, let’s talk about the “little things” and plan them out in advance. This can include:
- Decor arrangements: What photos will go on the wall? Where will that favorite chair fit? Which cupboard should the dishes go in? Even if you don’t know the exact floor plan yet, these small details are fun to discuss and can provide a feeling of excitement
- Activity planning: Take a look at the schedule for your parent’s community. Is there a movie night coming up? What about groups or excursions to join? Take the focus off the actual moving day by looking ahead at what your parent can do once they’re settled in.
- Menu options: Similar to looking at activities, glance at the types of meals coming up, if that’s available. Chat about whether you need to speak with the community team members about special dietary needs, and have that done in advance before the first meal in your parent’s new home.
- Visits: If possible, choose and plan for a potential move-in date now, before the final decision even happens. Maybe you can schedule a few visits in advance, even if you’ll be stopping in frequently, plan them out so your parent feels comfortable. Getting your loved one comfortable with “next month” or “by the 15th” of the following month helps to eliminate the unknowns and have a clear plan in place.
Getting Ready for the Big Day
Having a folder or box and keep everything in one place, including care plans and appointment schedules from physicians for upcoming months, contact information for team members at the new community, and anything that will be important.
Also, create a to-do list about what to bring and what needs to be purchased in advance. Gather legal documents, such as will, insurance policies and POA. Also any medical notes, documents, ID cards or list of RX’s.
Talks with the community’s advisor about what can be done in advance to make the transition easier. You may be able to go to your parent’s new home a few days ahead and bring some items, so your parent isn’t walking into an empty room.
Ask about what usually happens on moving day, and what to expect. If possible, plan on spending at least one night with your parent in their new home. The transition will likely feel major for both of you, and being able to sit and talk after all of the busy action of the move will help close the day on a positive note.
If you’re like most people, the thought of moving a loved one into a senior living facility is daunting. But it doesn’t have to be! By preparing ahead of time and knowing what to expect, the process can be much smoother for everyone involved. We Care Senior Solutions can help make the transition easier for both you and your loved one. We offer free consultations so that you can ask any questions you have and get started on the right path. Click the link to schedule a call with us today to learn more about how we can help!