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How To Help Parents Transition To An Assisted Living Facility

By Edited Dec 9, 2013 3 5
Sunrise Assisted Living
Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/15923063@N00/4204749764/in/photolist-7pyrBA-7HpUMs-gB7uyB-bWxfGt-gB6X9G-9EcfT2-fhUADd-gcfJWR-aH9GVV-cQay4s-c3C1ao-9pd2uS-aEXWZv-ehZz4s

Moving to an assisted living facility is a major change for any person.  It is not easy to do, even if all family members agree with the decision.   Many people will experience some grief over leaving their home.  This is quite a normal reaction and one that will pass over time.   

I know from personal experience in helping a loved one that everyone needs time to adjust.   There are several things you can do to make the transition easier for them.  This article will offer some tips which I have found made a positive difference.

Visit Several Places Before Making a Decision

Most cities now have many assisted living facilities for people to choose from.  We can expect the number of facilities will continue to increase, as more and more people are retiring. 

The costs can vary considerably as well.  Some charge a flat fee, and others charge extra for certain services.  More expensive places do not necessarily offer better services or amenities.  There may be some amenities that are not needed, but you may have to pay for them anyway.  These are things you will find out by visiting each place.  

The person or couple who will be moving should be actively involved in the process of selecting a place to live.  Some facilities ask that you make an appointment to view.  In some cases, they may invite you to stay for a free meal so that you can experience the food and get to know others.  It is always a good idea to visit a few places so you can tour the facility, find out what services are offered and see the rooms.  

Many assisted living places have waiting lists.  In most cases, even if you place your name on a list, you are not obligated to move in when they have a vacancy.  If the room is refused, you have the option of having your name placed at the bottom of the list again.  You can also have your name removed.  

A lot of seniors will start looking for places months before they are planning to move.  They can select the place that they really like, and wait for a vacancy if necessary.  This is a much better plan than waiting until placement is urgently needed.  In that case, you may have to settle for something you otherwise may not have chosen.  

Encourage Them To Bring Some Personal Items

Once a room is vacant, the facility will want to find a new resident as soon as possible.  This means the decision will have to be made quickly.  They are not making money with the room being empty.  You will not  have a lot of advance notice.  

This is why it will be a lot less stressful if a lot of sorting, packing and so on is done ahead of time.  It is important to respect their feelings and not make all the decisions unless they have asked you to.  

The person moving into the facility will appreciate having some familiar things with them.  This could include a favorite chair, their tv, pictures, and of course family photos.   Most facilities have a small kitchen, so you can include dishes, cutlery and mugs.  

Many assisted living places allow pets.  This includes cats and small dogs.  If your loved one has a pet and wants to bring it, you will need to be sure the policy allows it.  However, many facilities today are trying to make them as home like as possible.  

It can case a lot of stress for someone to give up a much loved pet.  If they are able to keep the pet with them, it will greatly ease the anxiety of moving into a new place.  

What You Can Expect At An Assisted Living Facility

Not all assisted living places offer the same services.  However, it is standard that they will offer three meals a day in a main dining room, weekly housekeeping, and 24 hour staffing.  The staff are not necessarily nursing professionals.  However, most places require everyone to be trained in basic first aid.  

You should know if professional help is availabe, particularly if you anticipate it may be needed at some point.  In some cases, you may have to pay extra to receive it.  These are good things to know.  There often comes a time when most seniors do need more help.  

Some assisted living places have a hairdresser on site.  They may also offer barber or spa services.  

They may have one or two seatings for meal times.  Tea and snacks are often available in the middle of the morning, and again in the afternoon.  

Rooms are usually equipped with a microwave and toaster so people can have breakfast or snacks in their rooms if they wish.  

Social activities may include  taking people shopping or on day trips, movie nights, card games, and so on.  Most of the activities are included in the monthly cost.  Many facilities have their own van for transportation. 

Visiting and Social Activities

Most facilities allow you to visit at any reasonable hour.  Plan to visit regularly if at all possible,  particularly in the first few weeks.  Take them on outings from time to time when you can too.   If you live in another city, calling them often will be reassuring and much appreciated.     

Encourage them to get involved in activities to meet other people who are living there.  This will help make the adjustment easier.  

Most places welcome guests to stay for a meal.  Your loved one may want you to stay for the intial meal and while they are getting adjusted to the new place.

Moving is stressful, even when the person has wanted to make the change.  It is quite normal for them to feel emotional and even some grief at giving up their home.  These feelings should be respected.  

Some people adjust very quickly, and others need more time.  If they have been actively involved in the process and have not felt pressured to move, they will likely settle in quite quickly.  




Nov 20, 2013 9:45am
It does give families peace of mind, knowing that someone is always there for the loved one. Thanks for visiting.
Dec 9, 2013 3:42am
A wonderful article Joanne. Caring for our parents is difficult. Planning is so important.
Dec 9, 2013 10:34am
Thanks very much for visiting.
Dec 9, 2013 2:26pm
I have been there and done that. We did all the steps that you mentioned in this article and as it happened my mother actually was a resident at SunRise Assisted Living. Even though no place is like home, she was comfortable there. Thumbs Up!
Dec 9, 2013 2:54pm
Thanks for visiting.
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