Getting Prepared: Start the Conversation NOW. Far too often, a move to assisted living results from a health crisis. Transitions are much smoother when your loved one is involved in the decision-making process; getting ahead of the curve and having conversations around future living arrangements before a crisis forces the issue makes the process less stressful.
Whether you’ve lived on your own for many years with or without a spouse–transitioning to assisted living can be an overwhelming and intimidating process. It’s arguably one of the most challenging adjustments an older adult can make in their later years. In some cases, as the adult child, you may be tasked with making difficult decisions for one or both parents to help them move forward with the process. But, with a little guidance and support from you, the transition can be much smoother for everyone involved.
Familiarize Yourself With All the Options. Unless you live in a small town, it’s likely that you have several options when it comes to choosing the right assisted living community. Researching your options online and developing a list of your top choices is an important first step. During your early research phase, be sure to write down the questions you have and bring them with you when you tour each community.
Schedule Tours of Your Top Choices and Attend Together. Another benefit to starting the process earlier rather than later is so that you as the adult child can tour communities alongside your mom or dad. Once you arrive, get a sense of the social environment, dining options, amenities offered, and the overall feeling you get when you first walk in the door. Talk with the residents to see what they have to say about living in that community.
Allow ample time to downsize, pack, and move accordingly. The most important thing to keep in mind while preparing to make the transition to assisted living is, once you’ve selected an assisted living community, prioritize the downsizing of your mom or dad’s current home. Don’t stress about doing everything right away, but start with deciding what items will move with your loved ones and what will be staying or sold and then move to smaller items. You’ll want to bring bedding, small furniture, and other items like toiletries, medications, and clothing with you.
Help set up their new space. One of the best ways to ease into this new stage of life is to make your loved one’s new space feel familiar. Having furniture they like and are used to is important, as well as arranging sentimental items like photos and decor so that they can be enjoyed. Make their space a warm, inviting place to sit with friends and family when they come to visit.
Be patient with your mom or dad during the transition. No matter how much you prepare for this transition to assisted living, it’s a big change–and there could be fear, apprehension, and overwhelming feelings associated with the move. Much like sending a child off to college, giving your loved ones space to get used to their new surroundings and meet new friends is key to settling into their new home. Lean on your friendships for support and exercise patience during the entire transition.
Adjusting to assisted living doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time, patience, and lots of extra love to help make the transition smooth. Giving mom or dad the space they need to settle into their new home while giving them the support they need from you will go a long way in making this a positive experience for everyone.