Making the Move: How to Help Seniors Transition into a Long-Term Care Facility
Moving an elderly friend or parent from one location to another isn’t easy. This is especially true when the move involves saying goodbye to their lifelong home. Making the transition from independent homeownership to a more communal retirement or long-term care facility can quickly take its toll on an elderly individual. As such, it’s important to take extra time and care when preparing seniors for this big life change. The following are a few things to consider when it comes time to help an elderly friend move on.
1. Be kind.
Patience and compassion are key during this time of transition. Your elderly friend is going to experience a wide range of emotions, not to mention physical and mental fatigue. When helping to sort and pack items, keep in mind that your friend or family member may need to take frequent breaks. Slow down and let them set the pace.
2. Help them say goodbye.
Over time, we all establish a relationship and sense of familiarity with our home. This can make it difficult to say goodbye when the time comes to move on. Help an elderly friend or family member end this chapter of their life by planning a meaningful goodbye celebration. Whether it’s a dinner party or a fun family photo shoot, this is your chance to make a beautiful memory for your loved one.
3. Plan a purge.
Making the move to a retirement village or long-term care facility will likely require some downsizing on the part of your elderly friend. Remember to be gentle when suggesting to get rid of possessions; some inconsequential items could hold sentimental value for your elderly friend. Instead of insisting that your friend donate or dispose of these items, suggest that they keep it in the family by gifting it to a grandchild or another relative.
4. Create a familiar environment.
Help your elderly friend or family member adjust to their new surroundings by creating a comfortable living space. If possible, ask to obtain a floor plan for the new space. Rather than buying fancy new furniture, try and save a few familiar pieces that will work within the confines of their new space. The same old recliner, pictures and souvenirs can go a long way to helping a senior citizen feel safe and comfortable in their new long-term care facility. This is absolutely critical when the move involves an elderly individual suffering from mid-stage Alzheimer’s.
5. Work with staff to make the process easier.
If you’re helping to transition an elderly friend or family member to a long-term care residence or retirement facility, don’t hesitate to contact a staff member for assistance. Contact the facility and ask who the primary point of contact should be during the move-in process. This will normally be the facility’s general manager or one of the top administrative professionals. If possible, take the time to meet with this person on one or more occasions in order to build a friendly relationship. He or she will be able to explain to you who to talk to in various circumstances.
6. Get involved
Once the move has taken place, ask staff what you can do to help going forward. This could be something as simple as taking your elderly friend or relative out for lunch on the day that housecleaning services are scheduled. Take the time to understand how the facility works and how you can make your loved one’s experience as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
Make the move easier on your elderly friend by offering to assist them in some shape, way or manner. Your presences alone will often be enough to help keep your elderly friend focused and excited for the new road ahead.