Making the decision to help an elderly parent move into an assisted living community can often be a difficult one and convincing them of the necessity can be difficult in its own right. However, once that has been done, how can you help your parent move into their new assisted living environment and feel at home? Whether you live elsewhere in the world (or country) or here in Yuma, assisted living can become a truly new home for your older parent, and we’ll examine how to transition them there.
This post will not discuss how to convince your parent to move to an assisted living community, as that’s a separate topic.
Emotional Necessities of a Move to Assisted Living
This isn’t a question about physical items that must be brought with your parent to their new home. Instead, you should think about: what are the emotional needs that someone will have in a new community? There are two primary ones to address.
1) Comfort. Moving into an assisted living community for many feels like accepting they have aged and may be toward the end of their lives. Many are already mourning a partner. A move to even the best assisted living space can come with fear, worry, and doubt.
2) Social needs. Your parent may worry they’re being sent to live elsewhere because the family considers them a burden, and they may fear they’ll be abandoned by family and friends. Addressing these needs and helping your parent make new friends in their community is key.
When it comes to making the move to assisted living smooth and emotionally healthy, there are some useful tips to follow.
- Don’t rush the packing process. This may exacerbate concerns that you’re looking to just get rid of your parent and are hurrying them along.
- Don’t buy new furnishings for the assisted living home. You might think you’re helping your loved one move into modern luxury and comfort, but all you’re doing is making their new home feel more detached and different from what they are leaving.
- Don’t let your parent adjust alone. Make sure you’re visiting them as often as is feasible so their integrating into the community is a seamless as possible.
- Don’t panic if there are bumps in the road. If your parent feels lonely or like this was a mistake, don’t immediately assume you did the wrong thing. It can take several months to adjust to assisted living.
- Do make packing up an event. Help your parent pack; let them go through their old items and reminisce about fond times. This can be an important part of the emotional processing. Invite friends and family over to help if your parent is comfortable with it.
- Do bring emotional keepsakes. Assisted living typically means downsizing, and you probably aren’t bringing nana’s grand piano with her, but focus on things that are worth keeping – a beloved armchair or pictures of kids, grandkids, and other loved ones. Photo albums and favorite books can be great.
- Do give your parent space to branch out, however. If you’re stopping by daily and talking with your parent for hours on the phone, they may be using you as a crutch rather than starting to build relationships with the staff and their new neighbors. This will be key moving forward in their time in assisted living, here in Yuma or anywhere else.
- Do be emotionally available. Your parent has emotional needs that must be addressed and making them fell safe being vulnerable and expressing fear or worry is key. You have made the right choice for your parent and should stand by it, but you should also stand with them and support them through the transition.
Of course, it’s always easier to make this transition when you’re working with a high-quality assisted living community. To learn more about Yuma Senior Living, a top-notch, locally owned and operated community, call (928) 388-6858.