Transitioning a senior parent into assisted living can be difficult and stressful. If you are in the process of moving your parent into assisted living, we have 9 tips to help the transition go smoothly.
1. Plan Ahead & Make Lists
There are many aspects to transitioning your parent into assisted living, and making a plan ahead of time will help to keep things organized. On top of making a schedule, you’ll also want to make lists to keep track of important items.
Your plan should consist of things like:
- When to move out of their old home and when to move into the facility
- Dates for scheduling tours of the new facility or to meet the staff and caretakers
- Dates to reserve storage facilities if you plan on renting or paying for storage space
- When to sort through all their belongings
- When to go through and cancel bills for electricity, heating, phone, cable or internet etc.
Along with your plan, you’ll want to keep track of other important items, such as:
- What belongings to get rid of or leave in storage
- What belongings your parent will want to bring
- Important emergency numbers or medications
- Any other important items or activities that should be kept track of
You’ll also want to designate roles within your family, such as who will be responsible for driving your parent to their appointments, or who will be the main point of contact with the facility.
2. Pay for or Rent Storage Space
We highly suggest renting or finding a storage space for any of your parent’s belongings that they can’t bring with them while they transition. Moving into assisted living can be incredibly stressful for all parties involved, but especially your parents. If they have to sort through all of their belongings before moving in, this will only compound the stress.
Renting a space to store things will allow them to transition into their new space and give them more time to think over what is important to them to keep. We’d still recommend sorting through and getting rid of things you know they don’t need or want, but a storage unit can be incredibly handy.
Once your parent is comfortable in their new home, it will be easier for them to let go of any items they don’t need. It’s one less thing for them to worry about while they transition into assisted living.
3. Take Tours of the Facility and City When Possible
Taking a tour of the assisted living facility is an important part of making your parent more comfortable with the transition. Even if it’s just a virtual tour, it will help them feel more familiar with the space and what their new home will be like. And if they are moving to a new or unfamiliar city, taking them to tour the city will also help.
Tours can also help them to articulate what they do, or don’t, like about a facility, and will give them more agency in the decision-making process of where to go. If you are interested in moving your parent into Origin at Spring Creek’s Assisted Living facility, we highly recommend connecting with us to take a virtual tour with your parent.
4. Talk to the Staff and Caretakers at the Facility
As part of a tour, you and your parent will be able to talk to the staff members at the facility. This will help to humanize the care that will be provided to your parent and make them more familiar with the people that will be around them regularly.
It will also help you feel more confident in the care that your parent will receive. Most facilities understand that this is a difficult time and that talking to the staff is a huge part of making the transition easier.
5. Have Open Communication
Talk openly with your parent about the transition. Make sure they are part of the discussion every step of the way so that they don’t feel ignored. You’ll also want to be open about why some things need to be done a certain way or be changed.
Hiding or omitting facts will only cause more anxiety around the move. Being honest about the move and what’s happening will help them feel more involved. Try to acknowledge their fears or concerns and accommodate them where you can. Open communication and understanding from everyone involved will make the transition easier.
6. Set Up A Schedule & Sign Them Up for Activities
A routine is always a useful way to create stability in a new environment. Setting up a schedule can not only keep them busy but get them involved in their new life and environment.
If you can create a schedule similar to what they had in their own home, such as reading the morning newspaper or going on an afternoon walk, this will help create a familiar environment and make the transition to assisted living easier. You’ll also want to set up activities that they’re comfortable with to keep them engaged and social.
Ensuring that your parent is interested in the offerings at the chosen facility will play a large part in making the transition easier for them. At Origin, we offer many activities and amenities for senior residents to enjoy, including:
- Arts & crafts
- Multiple delicious dining options
- Entertainment organized by our Life Enrichment Coordinators, including movies, trips, clubs, and more
- The Evergreen Spa
- Health & Fitness Programs for Seniors
- And more.
7. Make It Exciting & Fun, While Still Acknowledging the Change
A change of pace can be fun, and buying new fun or nice things for your parent to set up in their new home can help make the transition more exciting for them.
Speaking positively about the change can also make your parent feel more confident about the transition. However, while this may be a good change in the long run, it’s still a stressful transition that your parent may not be happy about. Don’t ignore their concerns even while you are trying to create a positive environment, as this will make them feel unheard.
If you think it will make the change more fun for them, take them shopping for things to have in their new home. Don’t try to force them to get rid of their old comforts, as they will be just as important in the transition as the shiny, new things. Try to keep the process a balance of fun, new things, while also acknowledging what your parent will have to let go of in order to move.
8. The Adjustment Takes Time
Adjusting to a new place takes time and care. It can take weeks or even months before your parent is fully settled into their new home and routine. It’s important to give it time, even if your parent is asking you to go home.
The first two months can be some of the hardest parts of transitioning your parent. They’re anxious about the new environment and just want to go home. But most of the time, this is just an adjustment period. Make sure to visit them regularly if you can to ease their stress. Keep in mind that some can even take three to six months to fully adjust to assisted living. Remind them that these things take time and that you and the staff at the facility are there to support them.
9. Remember to Be Their Advocate and Trust Your Instincts
One of the most important things to remember is that you are meant to be their advocate. Listen to their worries and reassure them where you can. Try to be excited when they make new friends or start a new hobby. You’ll also want to meet their caregivers at the facility if possible to familiarize yourself with your parent’s new care.
Let your parent know that you are on their side. The adjustment period can take a long time, but if you are feeling uncomfortable with the transition or you think that the facility isn’t going to work, trust your instincts. Speak to the facility’s staff about any concerns you or your parent may have, too, and see if there’s anything to be done to make the environment more comfortable. It is always better for everyone to be at ease, and to find a facility that fits best with your family’s needs.
If you’re looking for more resources on retirement living, check out our retirement blog for more information about discussing assisted living with your family or what to do when your parents can’t agree.
And for those who are still on the fence about assisted living, we recommend a trial stay if it is available at the facility. Origin at Spring Creek offers an all-inclusive, three-night stay for those who are curious about the facility and our care. It’s the perfect way to get a feel for assisted living before you make your decision. Contact us today to find out more about our trial stays, or to discuss transitioning your parent into assisted living.