The decision has been made, the new home chosen, the date and time scheduled – the hard part is over, right? Ideally, yes, but moving a loved one out of their home and into an assisted living or memory care facility can go a thousand directions and not all are smooth and easy. To make the move feel safe and comfortable and empowering vs. scary or upsetting or diminishing, here are some recommendations for planning and preparing the for the big day.
Communication is key – as always. Hopefully the decision to move your loved one into a care facility was discussed openly and honestly along the way and move-in day is just the next step. Certainly, this kind of move is easier when it is a decision that your elder loved one was an active part of rather than a circumstance based on pressure or medical necessity. Either way, move-in day can be planned for in a way that sets everyone up for success.
- Plan the room – Take measurements and draw up a floorplan so that your loved one can choose furniture and special items to bring that make them feel more at home in their new space. While downsizing will likely be necessary, bringing their favorite chair or framed photos or bedding will go a long way in making them feel comfortable and settled in their new home.
- Set the date – Choose a date that works for any/all family members that will help your loved one feel supported on the move day. Experts in supporting families through this transition, like the staff at ElderCare Navigators, recommend scheduling the move for early in the week and around lunchtime when there is maximum staff on hand to answer questions and help you get settled.
- Meet with staff – Bring your loved one to the new home to meet the caregiver staff, the activities director, the kitchen staff, and other residents prior to the move. Have lunch in the dining room or join an activity with your loved one and family members. Getting to know staff members and building those relationships will set your loved one up with strong support and your family with direct contact to those interacting with your loved one on a regular basis.
Now, depending on how Day 1 goes, the transition can be an ongoing process that needs support from all sides. Much of the work done through the recommendations above will continue to serve you well, though none more than keeping up good communication. Small grievances can add up between clients and staff if not addressed in real-time. Clients should always feel safe and comfortable asking for what they need, whether another pillow, help getting involved in an activity, or if they are experiencing new or different symptoms, etc. If your loved one does not feel confident in this kind of communication with staff and you feel that you need additional support, this is another way that the staff at ECN can support you as their Care Managers have worked in Senior Living Communities as Executive Directors and understand how these organizations work, not only from a customer’s perspective, but also from a provider’s perspective as well, which makes them very effective in helping resolve issues of any kind.
Some additional tips for smooth transitions are:
- Create a visit schedule and calendar – Plan as a family for days and times that your loved one can expect a visit from family or friends. This not only gives them something to look forward to, but also a plan to prepare for in advance giving them a sense of routine and control. Keep the calendar visible for them to reference.
- Visit often – This may be easier said than done with busy schedules, but particularly in the early days it may really help your loved one to feel supported in this new space and environment. A significant fear of many of our loved ones as they are moved into care facilities is that they will be left there alone to die. Make sure that they not only hear you say you will visit, but you also show them.
- Check in with caregivers – Quick calls to the care team for your loved one can provide critical information about their well-being that you may not have picked up on at your last visit or that have arisen since then. It may be as simple as some needed supplies or as significant as a behavioral change or new physical symptom. Also, the relationship between your loved one and their caregivers can make or break a successful experience. If there are underlying trust or personality issues, clueing into this and discussing if a team member change is necessary is fully within your right on behalf of your loved one.
- Get your loved one active – It may be that they love gardening or painting and can join into these activities with other residents or on their own if preferred. Many care facilities have a plethora of activities on a weekly or daily basis for residents to join in. If the currently listed activities are not your loved one’s cup of tea, discuss with the activities director options to help them feel engaged and useful. Try giving them a job or task that gets them active such as leading a Bible study or helping with administrative tasks – the idea is to get creative to find the ways to keep your loved one feeling alive and valued.
For support in making the decision to transition your loved one to a care facility, finding the right one, making the move successful, and continued support if helpful, the Care Team at ElderCare Navigators has extensive experience and knowledge in supporting you, your family and most importantly, your loved one.
Time is finite. Love is eternal. Forgiveness is everything.
By, Laura Olson