When families begin to consider senior living for a loved one, it’s a change that’s met by a whirlwind of emotions. You may feel uncertainty, fear, sadness, guilt, but there can also be hope in knowing the benefits and opportunities that will be available to help your loved one make the most of life. Here’s how you can begin to embrace this change as a family and ease the transition for your loved one.
Understanding the Emotions
Even if your loved one agrees to the move to senior living from a practical standpoint; emotionally it may represent a tipping point for some common aging fears such as:
- Losing independence
- Having to depend on others
- Not being able to drive
- Being isolated and lonely
- Falling or becoming incapacitated
- Running out of money
Making sure they know they can share their concerns with you, and being patient and empathetic with them will provide comfort as well as peace of mind.
At the same time, you and other family members may feel guilty over considering senior living in the first place which is also a common emotion. Talking about it may help you too; perhaps with a friend who’s been in a similar situation or in a caregiver support group.
Embracing the Change
This isn’t to say that you’re looking forward to your loved one needing additional support and leaving home, or that they are either; rather, that as a family you’re focusing on the positives of the situation. For example, knowing support is always at hand in senior living may help your loved one to feel more confident and independent than they were at home. They’ll no longer have the burden of cooking, housekeeping, laundry and home maintenance to worry about. Instead, your loved one will be able to focus on all the social and enrichment opportunities they have to look forward to – not to mention the amenities such as a pool, fitness center and conveniences like an onsite beauty salon. It’s a lifestyle that can truly help them thrive! For you, this move to senior living may provide the opportunity to be a child, spouse or sibling again, instead of always the caregiver – so you’ll be able to enjoy life right alongside your loved one!
It’s also important to give yourself time. By planning ahead, instead of waiting until a crisis hits, you gain this benefit. It gives your family time to adjust to the change and to start to look forward to the new opportunities that senior living offers.
Easing the Transition
As the moving process begins, there are some ways to further ease the transition to senior living, including:
- Work together – The more involved your loved one is in the process, the more confidence they will have in the decision. Plus, having a sense of ownership in the process can also help alleviate any fear over losing independence. So, work together to plan and implement the move to senior living.
- Familiarize yourself – There’s no reason to wait until moving day to familiarize yourself with the senior living community. Getting to know the community itself, the staff and new neighbors beforehand can help your loved one to feel much more comfortable. So, if possible, visit often to enjoy a meal or even participate in activities. It’s also a great way to get any remaining questions answered.
- Plan ahead – Planning your space beforehand can be a fun way to ease into the transition. Simply, ask the community for a copy of the floor plan in addition to any recommendations and/or restrictions on what you can bring. Then on moving day it will be even easier to set up the space so it feels like home with photos, keepsakes, personal items and furniture pieces that are comfortable and familiar.
- Get involved – The sooner your loved one makes friends and/or finds something fun to do, the sooner they’ll feel at home. That’s why most communities will make a point to introduce you to other residents who share similar interests or may even have new resident ambassadors to show your loved one around and make them feel welcome. Also, get a copy of the activity calendar to find events your loved one might enjoy.
- Be there for them – Reassure your loved one that you’re still an active part of their life and their care by visiting often. You could even pre schedule times for visits and/or calls on their calendar. And encourage other friends and family members to do the same!