Tips for Managing the Transition into Assisted Living
Change is never easy. For seniors, transitioning from living at home to assisted living is a significant change. The social, mental, emotional, and financial challenges that come with this transition touch virtually every aspect of life and can feel daunting. So what can you do to make the transition more manageable for both you and your parents?
How to Talk to Your Parents about It
To start with, you need to figure out how to talk to your parents about assisted living. This can be a very sensitive subject, so it’s important to approach it tactfully, with sympathy and understanding. Let them know that you’re bringing it up because you are concerned about their safety and wellbeing. Mention specific concerns if you have them. Acknowledge the struggles they’ll face. Listen to the concerns they have in return. Have a conversation about what some solutions might be.
Because of the difficult and sensitive nature of the topic, it may take some time for your parents to come to grips with the reality that living on their own isn’t a good option anymore. This discussion probably won’t be wrapped up after just one conversation; after all, there is a lot to talk about. Be patient with your parents throughout the conversations you have and listen to what they have to say. Remember, the whole point is for all of you to come together and arrive at the best solution possible for everyone.
Finding the Right Facility
One of the concerns both your and your parents will probably have is the need to find somewhere that will be a good fit for your parents. Not all facilities are created equal, and some may offer more specialized care than others. Beyond that, some facilities are of higher quality than others and have a reputation for providing a safe, happy home to their residents. Finding the facility that will best meet your parents’ needs can be easier said than done, though. The good news is that you can use the services of an assisted living locator to find a place that will be just right. Professional assisted living locators are intimately familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of many facilities. Take advantage of an assisted living locator’s expertise when trying to find a new place for your parents.
Stuff to Bring
One of the nice things about assisted living is that your parents can have their own space. How much space exactly? That will depend on the facility. Some assisted living facilities offer apartments for residents, while others provide a private room and bathroom. Whatever ends up being the case at the selected facility your parents move to, knowing what to bring can help make the transition easier.
Bedroom furniture will be a must. Expect to bring a bed, dresser, nightstand, and bedding at a minimum. Bringing curtains can be a good way to add a more personal touch to the room as well. Remember to bring bathroom essentials, too. Towels, personal hygiene items, wastebaskets, beauty and grooming products, and so on will help your parents feel more at home in their new space. If the facility offers apartment-style accommodations, then furniture and supplies for a living room, kitchen, and dining room will also be good to have on hand. Don’t forget to bring items for hobbies and entertainment! TVs, games, books, and music can all help your parents enjoy life more in their new setting. Try to avoid the temptation to bring the entire house over to the facility, though, and help your parents do the same. Unless they’re already living in a similarly sized space, there will likely need to be quite a bit of downsizing before they are ready to move in.
What to Expect
Just because the transition is necessary doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. Even if you pick the absolute best assisted living option for your parents, you shouldn’t expect them to love it right away. In fact, it may be a month or more before they start to settle in. Remember that they’ve just made one of the hardest transitions to make in later life. The home they’ve been living in is where they’ve spent years making memories and living with their family. Now they’ve left all of that behind to move somewhere that can provide them with additional support but can also signify a loss of independence. But don’t worry; over time, they should be able to settle in, make new friends, and adjust to their new life.
Benefits of Moving to Assisted Living
Even if the transition is rough going at first, the benefits to making the transition to assisted living are worthwhile. These places are designed primarily with the comfort and safety of seniors in mind. As such, quality establishments avoid common hazards that cause trips and falls, have good lighting, and are well maintained. These precautions, combined with the care provided by staff, create a safe living environment for your parents. Depending on the facility, seniors may even enjoy the benefit of meals provided by a dietician to keep them healthy. They’ll be around other people their age, which will give them many opportunities to participate in social activities and make new friends. Because it is an assisted living environment rather than a nursing home environment, they’ll be provided with the extra support they need while still maintaining an appropriate level of independence.
There’s no denying that making the transition to assisted living can be hard on both you and your parents. From broaching the subject to acclimating to a new living environment, there are challenges to face every step of the way. Approach it with positivity, kindness, and love. In the end, everyone is on the same side, working together to make sure that your parents can live happily and healthily in their senior years.