There are certainly many positives that come with a move to assisted living. In fact, our recent blog, 5 Benefits of Senior Living that are Hard to Find at Home, detailed some of the best. But that doesn’t mean a transition like this won’t come with plenty of emotion for your loved one, especially if the move is a result of a health scare or health condition worsening. You can, however, help to ease the transition. Here’s how.
Navigating the Emotions That Come With a Transition to Assisted Living
Even if your loved one has agreed to the move from a practical standpoint, emotionally, it may be another story. Assisted living is often seen as a tipping point to some of these common aging fears coming true:
- Loss of independence
- Declining health
- Running out of money
- Losing loved ones
- Depending on others
- Not being able to drive
- Being isolated and lonely
- Falling or becoming disabled
The best thing you can do is to make sure they know they can talk to you. This isn’t something you can ‘fix’ necessarily, but listening and being patient as well as empathetic with your loved one will give them comfort and peace of mind. It may also bring you even closer!
Getting Ready for the Transition
Aging fears aside, many people experience a fear of the unknown in the midst of a major life transition. Getting your loved one involved in as much of the planning and logistics of the move as possible can help. It not only keeps them focused, but having a sense of ownership in the process may also alleviate some of that concern over losing independence, and your loved one is likely to have more confidence in the decision to move to assisted living as well. A couple of the ways in which you can do this include:
- Plan the space – Have some fun with your loved one visualizing how to decorate their new residence. Many senior living communities offer printed floor plans or interactive room planners on their website to help. Assisted living communities, like ours, encourage residents to personalize their space as much as possible so it feels like home.
- Get a jump on packing – You can also check with the assisted living community for their recommendations on what you should and shouldn’t bring, to help your loved one start downsizing and packing. Common items to pack include things like linens, personal care items and comfortable clothing. Don’t forget photos and keepsakes as well!
Settling into the Assisted Living Community
You may think that moving day will be the most important, and it’s certainly likely to be filled with emotion and nerves, but actually, the first 30 days after the move are key to the transition as well. Keep in mind that this big of a life transition is something that will take your loved one time to fully process so there are likely to be highs and lows. This is perfectly normal and these tips can help:
- Get unpacked ASAP – There’s nothing that leaves a person more unsettled than unpacked boxes, which is why the sooner everything is put away and set up like you planned, the sooner it will feel like home.
- Keep things positive – Your loved one has a lot to look forward to in assisted living! This is an ideal time to play up those plusses such as maintenance-free living and resort-style amenities like fabulous dining, weekly housekeeping, fitness center, beauty salon, and inviting outdoor spaces. Not to mention the peace of mind that support is always at hand.
- Get plugged in – Certainly, another benefit of assisted living is the active, social and engaging lifestyle it offers, so get the community’s monthly calendar right away to see what’s available that your loved one might enjoy. Once they find things they love to do and make those first friends, they’ll feel at home in no time!
- Give them time – As we said, there will be highs and lows as your loved one adjusts to the transition. Just be there for them and give it a little time before rushing to make any changes.
- Stay involved – Your loved one may worry they’ll be left behind. To reassure them that you’re still a part of each other’s lives it can help to go ahead and schedule times for visits and/or calls on the calendar. Encourage their friends and other family members to do the same. It will give your loved one plenty to look forward to and help them to still feel connected to the people they love outside the community!