Seven Secrets to Easing Your Parents' Transition to Assisted Living

Easing your parents' transition to assisted living

Change is often difficult for people of all ages.  So it’s not surprising that seniors who are moving from their home into an assisted living community typically encounter some degree of difficulty adjusting to their new surroundings. If you and your parents have decided it’s time to make the move to assisted living, there are a number of strategies you can put in place to ease the transition and help them feel comfortable in their new home. 

It’s important to first consider the typical challenges your mom or dad may be facing. Some of the difficult aspects of a move to assisted living can include:

  • The need to downsize significantly, often from a single family home to a modest apartment
  • Having to adjust into a new routine, such as meals served at specific times of the day
  • Feelings of abandonment
  • Frustration surrounding a perceived loss of independence.

Of course, many seniors have no trouble at all adjusting to assisted living and take to it from day one. Even those who find the transition difficult usually adapt quickly and come to recognize the many benefits of their new home. For instance, most residents are greatly relieved to be rid of housekeeping and home maintenance chores.

Your support makes all the difference.

During their first month or two at the assisted living community, your parents will need your encouragement as they get adjusted to their new living arrangements. The key is to provide reassurance that they’re not ending the life they’ve known; rather they are embarking on a new chapter. These seven secrets can help your loved one make the best and easiest adjustment to assisted living possible:

1. Talk finances first. It’s crucial for your loved one to make the transition to assisted living with a detailed financial plan in place. What resources do they have to pay for care? What options are available to help cover the cost? Make a realistic plan for how much you and your family can help your loved one financially, if needed. Make sure everyone who might be asked to contribute is involved in the discussions. Contact your financial advisor to help you work through the details.

2. Take your parent to visit the community as often as possible before the move. After your family has selected a senior living community, visit it frequently with your loved before they actually move. Attend meals and events that allow your mom or dad to become familiar with the residents, staff, and layout of the community. This will make the community and everyone who lives and works there feel familiar when moving day rolls around.

3. Bring personal items and create familiar spaces. In order to make mom or dad’s new abode feel like home, it’s important to incorporate their personal items. Choose articles that have the most personal meaning, such as pictures, knick-knacks, awards, etc. As space permits, consider bringing some of their furnishings in to replicate aspects of their former residence. Make sure your parent has input about which items to bring to their new home.

Socializing with others at assisted living

4. Encourage your loved one to socialize and participate in activities. Your parent is likely to adjust well if she or he gets involved with activities and makes some friends at the community. Assisted living communities generally offer a wide variety of activities, so while not all of them will be appealing to your loved one, there’s bound to be some that do. Attend some activities with your parent to ensure that he or she is meeting new people.

5. Help your parent find ways to help out at the community. Many assisted living communities have resident volunteers that take on roles such as greeting visitors, answering phones, or managing the library. When residents feel useful and as though they have a purpose, it can improve their outlook and help immensely with the transition.

6. Get to know the medical staff. Your parent may need to switch to a new healthcare provider or clinic after their move to assisted living. Be sure to keep up with any recommended changes and new medicines that may be prescribed. Be sure you know how to reach key members of your loved one’s medical care team.

7. Don’t become too protective. While the tips outlined above can help your loved one during their transition, don’t thwart their independence or feel as though you need to be with them all the time. Visiting often during the first days and weeks will help make sure your loved one doesn’t feel abandoned, but excessive “handholding” could prevent your parent from successfully adapting to her or his new home.

While the move to assisted living can be daunting, your efforts will pay off in the form of a comfortable, enjoyable new home for your loved one.

About FAI Wealth Management, Inc.: Located in Columbia, Maryland, FAI focuses on helping clients create the financial future they desire by protecting their wealth, making the most of their assets, and planning for life's uncertainties. The firm combines fee-only, fiduciary-driven guidance with highly personalized, consultative financial planning and investment services that enable individuals, families, and businesses to navigate complex life transitions. Founded in 1987, FAI currently manages more than $350 million in client assets nationwide. For more information about FAI Wealth Management, please visit the website at https://www.faiwealth.com or call 410.715.9200.

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