How to Help Your Aging Parent Transition into Assisted Living
Moving into assisted living is not always welcomed by seniors. Although they may recognize their need for additional care, many struggle to accept the perceived loss of independence that comes with relocating. They may also be moving further from family and friends, leading to increased feelings of isolation and even abandonment.
It’s crucial to help your parent understand the motivation behind this decision and to make them feel included in the process. To make for the most successful transition, you’ll have to have many discussions. Some of them may be easier than others, but all of them serve to gently guide your aging parent into an assisted living community.
Address Their Finances
If your parent has a degenerative condition like Alzheimer’s, it’s even more important to plan their estate and cover their life insurance policy while their cognition is intact. Although it’s not something either of you want to think about, it’s important to ensure that their final wishes are completely understood and followed in the event they become too sick or incapable of voicing them. An end-of-life planning checklist will allow them to specify any medical and financial decisions they want their family to make if they are ever unable to do so.
Other finances, like retirement and savings, should be discussed. Will your parent still have full access to them, or will they be issued an allowance? Depending on their mental faculties, you may have to be in charge of them. How would they like this managed going forward?
Encourage Them to Socialize
The sooner your parent start connecting with others, the better off they’ll be. Assisted living communities offer opportunities for aging citizens to engage with one another in safe and secure environments. Even those with Alzheimer’s and dementia can form new friendships and experience new things. Some families become over-invested in the transition because they’re worried about how lonely their loved one will feel once they leave; although it’s important to still be in touch, it’s equally vital to encourage them to be independent, meet others and find their place in their new community.
Bring Personal Belongings
Make their new space as comforting as possible by bringing items they cherish. Photo albums, artwork and even pillows and blankets can make their new home feel less foreign. Although they won’t be living in their own home anymore, your parent can still have the items that bring them the greatest comfort by their side.
Avoid buying too many new things that could further overwhelm your parent. Because they already have an entirely new environment and routine to adjust to, it’s best to limit anything major like a new TV or computer they may have trouble using. Keep things as familiar as possible while still embracing the new surroundings.
Talk to the Staff
Don’t feel like you’re completely on your own. Any of the guilt, pain and discomfort you feel about moving your parent into assisted living is something the staff understand. They are there to help both you and your parent get through this together and come out happier. You can also work with the staff to help your parent transition into the community more easily; if they aren’t socializing enough, for example, let a trusted staff member know and they can encourage them to come outside more often.