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Ease the Stress of Moving to Assisted Living
Marissa Salvesen

By: Marissa Salvesen on April 7th, 2015

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Ease the Stress of Moving to Assisted Living

assisted living  |  caregiver tips  |  Aging & Caregiving

0156EFP120618-134222_UMH_Com_COChange is often necessary, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy especially when it comes to helping your aging loved one transition to an assisted living community.

Read on to learn some ways to help seniors manage anxiety and embrace the many benefits of this maintenance-free lifestyle.

Home Sweet Home

While the expression, “home is where the heart is,” may be true, our belongings are an important part of creating a comfortable environment. Help your loved one immediately feel at home by setting up his/her new apartment in advance.

Favorite clothing, furniture, books, photos, and other mementos add up to a warm, welcoming space.  Be sure to consult with your parent during the selection process: he/she may have specific ideas of “must have” items to bring along.

If you’re loved one has favorite snacks or drinks, stock up on these, as well. If small appliances are welcome, bring along the coffee maker or microwave for both comfort and convenience.

Staff Matters

Help the staff members in the community build a strong relationship with your loved one right from the start by offering information about any of your parent’s interests, special preferences or habits. Perhaps he/she has a cup of coffee first thing every morning or enjoys listening to classical music in the afternoon after lunch? Perhaps they used to be part of a bowling league and would love to try playing on a Wii system.

By informing the staff about these details you can create a more comfortable environment for your loved one while fostering a connection with caregivers. 

Assisted living staff members are happy to offer valuable suggestions about ways to help your parent feel more engaged, build social connections, and maintain a vital sense of self by participating in the community.Use them as a resource throughout the move-in process and the transition weeks that follow.

Manage Expectations

Older adults are creatures of habit. While your parent may have known exactly what to expect at home, uncertainty about life in an assisted living community may be overwhelming.  Assuage this fear by introducing a sense of predictability. Write out the daily routine, including when you will be calling and/or visiting. This not only helps your loved one relax, but it also gives him/her something to look forward to.

Also, spend time at the community prior to move-in day so your loved one gets a better sense of the day-to-day experience. Whether you stop by for a meal in the dining room, join in on an exercise class, or enjoy afternoon entertainment together, your loved one will gain a better understanding of what to expect. This is also a great opportunity to introduce your parent to the staff members who will be getting to know him/her throughout the transition.

Sell, Sell, Sell

While your parent may have agreed to leave home, he/she likely still has concerns. In the days leading up to the move, spend time talking about the many benefits of assisted living -- from delicious prepared meals to nightly activities. Get a community calendar for the upcoming month and go over it with your parent, highlighting any interesting or relevant activities. By offering something to look forward to, you can help redirect any sad or anxious feelings.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore or negate any concerns when your loved one expresses them: acknowledge negative emotions, but keep your focus on the positive.

While the move from one’s home to a new home in an assisted living community is a life-changing one, it doesn’t have to be fraught with stress and anxiety. Planning, preparation and a positive attitude can ease the transition for seniors and family members alike.

Key Takeaways

  • Even though your aging loved one has agreed to move to an assisted living community, your work is not done yet: proper planning ensures a smooth transition.
  • Touches of home can be welcoming! Set the room up in advance so your loved one moves into a friendly, familiar setting.
  • Staff members are a valuable resource; the more you communicate with them, the more they can partner with you to help your aging loved one transition with success!
  • Acknowledge your loved one’s fears and concerns but maintain a positive attitude.

About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.