Dealing with change isn’t always easy for the older adults. Whether it is an assisted living in Albuquerque or a senior care facility in Seattle, moving a senior parent, even a willing one, to such facility is an emotionally challenging process. Leaving behind the home you built and the friends you have made over the years to start a new life in an unfamiliar place is certainly a scary thought.
As it happens, this transition may lead to extreme mood swings. However, it becomes emotionally easier for your loved one if the family members remain involved in this decision from the day one. With your support and encouragement, your parent may see it as an opportunity to make new friends and explore new things.
Still, getting through the first few months of the transition is the biggest challenge for everyone including your loved one, family members, and the caregivers. Here is a list of 4 tips that will help you make the transition as welcoming as possible.
1. Speak with a Respectful and Concerned Tone
As mentioned earlier, moving your parent to an assisted living community is a decision fraught with emotion. That’s why you have to adopt a respectful and concerned tone when speaking with your loved one about the transition to an assisted living community. Be prepared to face extreme emotional reactions during the move. However, don’t let your loved one’s emotional outbursts force you to second guess your decision. Convey your thoughts in a firm but gentle manner.
Chances are, like most elders, you parent will also be in denial at first, insisting that they can handle everything on their own. Listen carefully to everything they have to say, but never forget to remind them that their safety is your primary concern and this is the best way to help them.
You should open the dialogue as soon as you see them struggling with daily activities such as getting to the toilet, walking, driving, checking mail, or personal hygiene. If you have this conversation early on, instead of waiting until a crisis takes place, it will give your loved one some time to prepare themselves for the potential change.
2. Visit Regularly
Being there with your parent is a better way of saying you care than just making a phone call, particularly if you live in the same city. So, make sure to visit your loved one as often as possible. You can also take a neighbor or your parent’s friend with you to keep their old friendships alive.
Regular visits will assure your parent, that the transition to an assisted living facility was necessary for health reasons and it hasn’t shunned them out from their family and friends. Every once in a while, have lunch with them or participate in one of their social activities.
However, avoid going overboard with regular visits. Gradually, your parent should adjust with the reality that you may not always be there. Remember, you also have other commitments with your family members, friends, and colleagues. So, create a plan on how often you want to visit initially and after your loved one has adjusted to the new life and stick with it.
3. Acknowledge Their Personal Preferences
When shopping for the right assisted living facility, take your parent’s personal preferences into account. For example, a friend of mine found out that his mother wanted a pet-friendly senior care community with enough space for her cat. On the other hand, another friend of mine found out that her mother didn’t want to miss the Sunday mass. So, she looked for an assisted living community with a built-in church which her mother could attend whenever her health permitted her to.
If you move your parent into a facility without taking their preferences into account, they are likely to feel depressed. However, you have to make sure your loved one can afford the place they like. Otherwise, they will soon run out of funds forcing them to move to a government funded facility with limited options. It is, therefore, better to delay the shopping for a senior care facility until you get a clear idea about their preferences and their finances.
4. Limit the Number of New Things
Downsizing is one of the most crucial aspects of moving your loved one to an assisted living community. Unfortunately, people often get carried away in the processes of weeding out the items their parents no longer need. They often end up throwing away everything and replacing it with brand new items hoping their parents would appreciate the new things. They couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Not only the elders have a strong emotional attachment to the old items, but they are also reluctant to learn the new things. So, replacing your mother’s old TV with a new one having a new remote is not such a good idea after all. Your parent already has to meet new people and adjust to the new routine. So, don’t overwhelm them with new belongings, particularly the ones they need to learn to use.
Of course, you will need to get rid of the items that can’t fit in the new apartment. However, resist the urge to change everything from top to bottom. In fact, try to personalize their new place with family photographs, their favorite books and magazines, familiar artwork, electronics, blankets, and pillows.
Moving to a new place involves a lot of effort such as adjusting to a new routine, living in a place full of strangers, and making new friends. It is, therefore, difficult for senior citizens to move to a new place. Unfortunately, moving your senior parent to an assisted living facility is an unavoidable decision everyone has to take eventually. This is an emotionally and physically demanding process for everyone including your loved one and rest of the family members. Hopefully, these 4 tips will help you make the transition as harmonious as possible for your loved one.