Moving a parent (or grandparent, spouse, great-aunt), to an assisted living community in Oakland County or elsewhere can be a difficult, time-consuming and emotional journey. While there’s no way to eliminate the hard work of moving a household, there are some suggestions and ideas to make the transition a bit smoother for a loved one and their family.
Help Them Make Decisions About What to Bring
If an elderly loved one has already downsized once – say, from their large family home to a smaller apartment – the move to an assisted living facility in Troy will be slightly easier, as they’ve likely already made decisions about parting with some belongings. But if this is their first move from their home in many years, packing up will require making some tough decisions about family heirlooms, furniture, dishes, artwork, etc.
While many facilities encourage new residents to bring furnishings from home to help their new space feel more personalized and “homey,” there’s only room for so much when moving into assisted living. Bring things that will remind the loved one of their previous home without taking up much space, like framed family photos, picture albums, a favorite piece of artwork, important books, and a couple knick-knacks. If bedroom furniture won’t be brought along to the new facility, perhaps keep a favorite quilt or pillows to help their new space still feel familiar.
Get Help Packing Up and With Other Logistics
Making the decisions about what to keep, sell or donate can be overwhelming, as can the packing itself. If possible, get help. Call siblings or cousins for assistance, or even better, hire a senior move manager, if it is financially possible to do so. Senior move managers help not only with all the logistics of a senior’s move to an assisted living facility, but also with emotional support. When a senior becomes overwhelmed, fearful or seemingly paralyzed by the weight of sorting through their whole life’s belongings, a senior move manager can guide them, help them find a place to start, and provide a gentle, objective eye to help them make decisions.
Senior move managers can also provide the following services: organizing and downsizing; scheduling and managing estate sales, auctions or donations; hiring and overseeing movers; creating floor plans of the new space, so the senior can visualize what they have space to bring; and helping to unpack once there. There’s even a National Association of Senior Move Managers that accredits these professionals, and helps family members find one in their area.
Tips for New Residents
Once they are moved into their new room or apartment, here are some tips to help seniors adjust and acclimate to their new setting.
- Give it Time – It takes between three and six months, on average, for a senior to fully adapt to their new setting. There may be feelings of grief (mourning their previous home), loss of control, and fear of all the “new” (new people, new setting, new schedule). These are normal and shouldn’t be glossed over. Giving the senior time to work through these feelings is healthy, and will eventually lead to acceptance, and even satisfaction and happiness.
- Ask questions – The employees and administrators at the new assisted living community/memory care/hospice facility in Oakland County should be partners and guides through this transition. If a rule or procedure is confusing or problematic, ask about it. If a resident needs help remembering a mealtime or how to find the group activity room, ask for help.
- Be open-minded – Family members can help their loved one with this by helping them to prepare mentally before the move, and coaching them to keep an open mind once there.
- Be social – Yes, it can be hard to meet new people, but staying holed up in their room or apartment will only isolate the new resident and make it harder to adjust to their new life. Seniors should try to attend group activities, attend live entertainment or outings that are offered, eat meals in a group setting, and try their best to meet new friends – both other residents and staff.
Tips for Family Members
When a loved one in Troy moves into their new assisted living facility, the family member’s role is not done. Their spouse, parent or grandparent will continue to need the family’s support, time, and help to navigate their new situation and emotions. Keep these suggestions in mind:
- At first, don’t visit…or do – Experts give conflicting advice on this issue. For the first couple of weeks, some senior care experts advise not visiting a loved one, to make them less reliant on family visits and force them to meet new people and really get involved in the community. Other experts say frequent visits are important in the first few weeks to help the loved one feel less lonely and ease the stress of the transition. Only the family member(s) know their loved one best, and which of these two paths is better for their overall wellness.
- Let go of guilt – It is almost inevitable to feel guilt when moving a loved into senior care, but it’s not a helpful emotion. There are reasons the family decided it was time for their loved one to move into assisted living (like for their safety and health). Remembering those reasons every time guilt “bubbles up” is a helpful technique for stopping guilt before it takes over.
- Build a “team” with the staff – While family will visit occasionally, the majority of the time, the new resident will be cared for and surrounded by the staff and administrators. Family members should view staff members as part of their team, and actively ask the staff to help with their loved one’s adjustment to assisted living. Ask questions of the staff and talk to them about any concerns with a family member’s care. Families can advocate for a loved one’s needs as part of a strong team relationship. Building a team with staff will also be invaluable if and when a loved one must transition into memory care or hospice care in their Oakland County assisted living facility.
Teamwork Facilitates the Transition
Making the move to assisted living can often be emotional, as well as physically and logistically challenging. But by following these tips, families and the senior who is moving can experience a smoother, calmer and more fulfilling transition. It’s all about teamwork; from planning the move to settling into the new living arrangement. Everyone working together can help the senior benefit from the new experience.