Preparing a Parent for a Move to Assisted Living

If you are the adult child of an aging parent who faces challenges living on his or her own, the time may have arrived at which some other residential arrangement makes sense for your parent. You and your mother or father may have determined that an assisted living community is a good move. With that noted, you may wonder what you can and need to do to make your parent’s move to an assisted living community as easy and stress free as possible. By way of this article, we present you with some basic tips and tactics to prepare your parent to move to an assisted living community.

Assuming that a decision has been made as to which assisted living community will be your parent’s new home, the focus of these tips is on the move and transitioning to your mother or father’s new residence. The most essential tips to bear in mind in regard to your parent’s move to assisted living are these:

  • Visit the community more than once before the day of the move
  • Assist your parent in downsizing
  • Arrange for packing assistance
  • Engage a reputable, reliable mover
  • Discuss the move regularly with your parent (and listen to any concerns)
  • Set realistic expectations about assisted living
  • Involve other family members
  • Emphasize that this is a change of address, not a change of life

Visit the Community

Even though you undoubtedly visited the assisted living community where your parent will live at least one time when you were considering the options, now that your mother or father has selected a location, the transition can be easier if you visit the center with your parent in advance of the move. Consider visiting the assisted living community at different times of day and different days of the week. This will give your parent a feel for how the community runs. 

Assist in Downsizing

Odds are that your parent will need to downsize in advance of a move into an assisted living community. Indeed, your parent may need to do a significant amount in the way of downsizing. 

Downsizing anytime is a challenge. It can prove particularly difficult when an older person is moving from a residence that may have been home for many years. That challenge in that situation is magnified when the move is to an assisted living community.

You can make the whole downsizing process much easier for your mother or father if you actively participate. This can come in the form of helping them make decisions about what and what not to keep. The mere fact that you are with them in the downsizing process – moral support, if you will – is valuable in and of itself.

Arrange for Packing Help

In advance of the arrival of movers, consider hiring a packing service to assist in preparations. On many levels, nothing is a bigger drag that packing to move. By engaging the services of professional packers, your parent isn’t tied to packing during his or her final days in his or her home. 

Keep in mind that most packing services also assist with unpacking. That does require a bit more direct involvement in the sense that there needs to be some direction as to where items will go when they are unpacked.

Hire a Reputable Mover

On a related note, hire a reputable mover – including one that has a track record of showing up on time. There seems to be something of an endemic problem among movers all over the country that aren’t diligent about showing up at the appointed time and even the scheduled day. 

You might also want to question a potential mover about experience in relocating a person to an assisted living community. There are going to be very specific guidelines surrounding a move into an assisted living community that will need to be followed by a moving firm to the letter.

Discuss the Move Regularly

Do not lose sight of the fact that your parent’s move to an assisted living community is a major alteration in his or her life. You are advised to discuss an upcoming move with your parent with regularity. This includes listening to your mother or father about any fears of concerns that he of she might have in regard to this transition. 

Be patient with your parent when it comes to talking about the move. You can be virtually certain that your parent will revisit the same issues over and then over again. Don’t be dismissive and say that you already discussed a particular matter – even if that has occurred multiple times already. Your parent is bringing up a matter more than once because that is something of particular concern or interest to your mother or father.

Set Realistic Expectations

In regard to your parent’s move to an assisted living community, you need to make certain you set realistic expectations about the transition and what may be ahead from your mother or father in regard to life in assisted living. At the heart of setting realistic expectations, you need to avoid making any type of false statement about the move itself or about life in assisted living. 

Don’t make promises that cannot be kept to your parent in regard to a move to assisted living. Don’t provide inaccurate information to your parent. If you don’t know the answer to a question put forth by your parent, tell your mother or father you just don’t know. Tell your parent you will try and find an answer to a question and make sure you do follow up. 

Involve Others

You do not have to go through the assisted living transition process with your parent alone. You certainly should involve other people, including other family members. For example, even if you are the sibling who lives closest to your parent, even if you’re the person who has provided primary caretaker assistance to your parent, your other siblings need to be involved in the assisted living transition process to some degree. 

Emphasize This Is a Change of Address, Not Life

Yes, a move to an assisted living community is a big deal. Yes, it alters the way an older person lives his or her life. However, the intent behind assisted living is not to force your parent to start a whole new life.

In many ways, assisted living is a change of address (with some added benefits) and not a whole new existence. It is important to remember this perspective when you and your mother or father face an assisted living transition for your parent. 

Make sure that you emphasize that your parent will be able to do many, if not most, of the things he or she enjoys once residing in an assisted living community. In this regard, it is very important that you assure your parent he or she will see you as often as possible when in an assisted living community. The move doesn’t alter your relationship with your mother or father.

By following the tips and tactic outlined for you in this article, you will be able to make your parent’s transition into an assisted living community as smooth as possible considering the nature of the change. You will make the process easier not only for your mother or father but for you and the rest of your family as well.