What’s involved in moving to a senior facility? What can you do to help your loved one make a smooth transition?
Moving to a senior facility—especially for long term care, as opposed to temporary rehab care—involves adjustments that are both emotional and practical. A person may be dealing with misconceptions, fear, anger or depression. It’s no surprise that moving to someplace new often leads to feeling that you’ve “lost your bearings”—your sense of security and belonging. Making new friends and settling into a whole new scene takes effort and a willingness to stretch and take risks, no matter what a person’s age or health status.
There are practical considerations too: What to take? How to pack? What to do with the things we don’t take. If your loved one is moving to a nursing facility, you can help ahead of time, on move-in day, and during the days and weeks following the move.
Before the move, friends and family can help by:
- Learning from the facility about space limitations and what personal clothing and items will be needed and helpful
- Helping pack these personal items
- Making arrangements for other things not taken
- Making arrangements for forwarding mail
- Canceling any unneeded personal or household services, such as the daily newspaper
- Marking all clothing and personal items with the person’s name
- Making a list of the personal property being taken to the facility
- Dealing with any special concerns, such as care of a pet.
On the day of the move, support of a family member or friend can make all the difference. Here are some simple steps:
- Help your loved one unpack.
- Place photos, favorite mementos and other personal items where they will help create a feeling of home.
- Share a meal.
- Get to know a few people on staff and a few of the other residents.
- Learn a bit about the activities, amenities, and services the facility offers.
- Spend some quiet time in conversation as the process winds down.
- If you can, plan ahead for your next visit and share that with your loved one.
After the move
One of the biggest fears for senior facility residents is that they will be left out. That they’ll be forgotten. That where they live will come between them and the people they know and love.
The truth is there will be differences. Your loved one and his or her support network will have some adjustments to make. But almost always the downside is outweighed by an upside. Care will be improved. Medical and personal care challenges will be dealt with. Staying “socially connected” and “physically active” will become easier. And all of these differences can mean living longer and with a higher quality of life.
You can help your loved one adjust to the move—in fact, take advantage of it—by staying actively involved as friend, guest, advocate and troubleshooter. Check in often with your loved one, with staff, and with a few of the other residents. Ask how things are going and how they could be going better. And if your loved one approves, plan to be part of his or her care conferences.
Copyright ©IlluminAge AgeWise, 2011