There are 46 million people in the United States aged 65 or older, and this number is expected to reach 90 million by 2050. Around 2% (800,000) currently reside in assisted living facilities, while 4.5% (1.5 million) live in nursing homes.
Assisted living facilities provide physical, mental, and emotional support while still allowing residents to live as independently as possible. If your parents are starting to struggle with some of life’s day-to-day activities, it might be time to discuss relocating to such a facility.
How can you help your parents smoothly transition into their new home? What are some assisted living tips to make things easier? Can you help them integrate into community life? To discover the answers to these questions and more, keep on reading!
Before the Move
The transition into an assisted living facility begins before the move. Only 17% of elderly adults wish to move into a facility, while 61% would rather stay at home and 8% would rather move in with family.
1. Talk About Expectations
Honesty is the best policy, so setting realistic expectations with your parents is the first step. Initially, the conversation about moving to an assisted living facility is going to be difficult. Some elderly people bring it up themselves or are aware that it’s time, but others will be resistant to the change.
Ensure that your parents understand that these facilities are a support system where they can enjoy community life as independently as possible.
2. Choose the Right Community
Work with your parents to find the perfect facility for them. The best choice will balance your parents’ preference with care and comfort. If your parents require a higher level of care, their choice of a facility should be equipped to meet their medical needs.
Visit a few facilities with your parents (if possible). It helps to put their mind at ease and allows them to get a better feel for where they would prefer to live. Once you’ve chosen a place, visit a few more times to make the move seem less daunting.
During the Move
Once you’ve chosen an assisted living facility, you need to help your parents move from their current home to their new one. These facilities are a support system, so they may offer moving resources and suggestions. Follow these next two assisted living tips to make the move more manageable.
3. Pack Sensibly
Naturally, your parents will want to keep most, if not all, of their possessions. Assisted living facilities usually involve a downsize in terms of space, so you’ll need to help them decide what to keep, what to store, and what to get rid of.
By getting a plan of the premises (with measurements), you can determine the items that can’t go. For example, there might not be space for all of their current furniture.
Letting go of personal items can be tough, but your parents will likely have accumulated quite a horde of possessions, such as books, technology, cutlery, clothing, and memorabilia.
If your parents are selling the house to help cover the facility costs, you may be able to leave a lot of the furniture there. This can save you time and money, but it also makes the transition easier for your parents as they won’t have to see their house completely void of belongings.
4. Allow Time for Transition
Depending on the distance between their home and the facility, your parent’s health, and other factors, you should try to ease your parents into the assisted living facility. Take them to visit whenever you’re moving possessions.
Being able to sit in the new home with a friendly face, while drinking some tea or coffee will make the transition much easier on all of you.
After the Move
The transition isn’t over once your parents have successfully moved into the facility. They are in an unfamiliar environment and may be scared or intimidated.
5. Spend Time with Loved Ones
Moving into an assisted living facility is challenging! If both your parents make the move, it will be slightly easier. But if a parent is alone, they may feel abandoned.
By visiting the facility regularly, along with any friends or family members they enjoy spending time with, you can demonstrate that life will carry on as it did before.
6. Meet the Neighbors
You can help your parents integrate into community life by getting to know the neighbors yourself. Very few elderly people want to be alone, despite what they may say, so don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, and then introduce your parents.
You should also introduce yourself to staff and caregivers. Remember, the facility is a community.
7. Take Advantage of Opportunities
Most assisted living facilities will run community events and activities. These are a great way to meet the neighbors. But they also allow your parents to socialize, exercise, develop new skills, learn, and explore hobbies.
These activities can help your loved ones stay mentally sharp as they get older.
Ask a member of staff for more information so you can inform your parents of what is available.
Moving to Assisted Living
Making the move to an assisted living facility is always going to be tough. By being there for your parents before the move and after the move, you can help make the transition as easy as possible. Community life can be a great experience!
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