When you're moving a parent to assisted living, the hundreds of "make your move easier" lists on the internet fall a little short. Every move signifies an ending and beginning. When your mom or dad moves from their home to assisted living, this is even more so.
These tips are meant to help your parent's move go more smoothly – for them and you.
How Long Will It Take?
Set realistic goals about what you can accomplish in a day. Moving a family from one house to another might be doable in one, marathon day. You might be exhausted the next day, but at least all of your things are in one place.
When it comes to moving your 84-year-old mom or dad, a marathon, one-day move is less likely to be possible. Keep in mind what you and they can accomplish – physically and emotionally – in a day. Unless you absolutely have to, don't rush it.
"If you can, move everything in a few days early, so mom doesn't walk in on all the boxes," says Kathleen Williams, Executive Director, Highgate at Temecula. "When mom arrives, it's home already."
When your mom or dad move away from your childhood home, it's tough. Not only is a part of your past slipping away, but it's also an acknowledgment that they're aging. On moving day these emotions can be hard to keep in check. Try your best not to show them in front of your parent that day. They'll need your support and positivity. While it's right to acknowledge their grief, it's also important to remind them of the positives in their future.
Make the Move-in Day Special
If your parent will be in the apartment during the move, make it a special day for them. It's their first day in their new home. Have plenty of snacks and drinks on hand. Ask them or others to tell fun family stories, even if everyone's heard them before. Make it a happy day.
Mom or Dad’s Move-in-day Role
As you're planning the move, ask your parent where they'd like to be and what they'd like to do on moving day. Do they want to be in the middle of it, directing the action from their easy-chair? If not, arrange for a family member to keep them busy during the day. They could participate in an activity at the assisted living facility together, visit a museum, go to the movies or shop. Whatever your parent will enjoy doing that will also keep them out of the moving-day fray.
“First box” and an Overnight Bag
Work with your parent to pack an overnight bag and a "first box." Include staples that they'll need in the first day or so. That way you'll know exactly where these items are. No frantic searching! Put both of these in a car rather than in a moving van so they're easily accessible.
The overnight bag should include things like a couple of changes of clothes, underwear, pajamas, an extra pair of shoes, toiletries and medications. Their "first box," the first box they'll open in their new home, should include things like their alarm clock, night lights, the book they're currently reading, their coffee maker, a coffee mug and toaster.
Get the Bed Ready
Make sure that your mom or dad know that you'll get them ready for bed before you leave. Put linen on their bed and set up their bedside table with a lamp and clock as soon as possible. It will be ready whenever they want to go to bed or if they want to lie down during the day.
Plan the Post-move Transition
Set up a visitor calendar for the first couple of weeks after the move. Each day or two, schedule a family member or friend to visit them. Encourage visitors to participate in an activity or enjoy a meal with your parent. Your parent won't feel as if they've been abandoned. With someone at their side, they'll transition smoothly into their new home. Family and friends have an opportunity to get acquainted with your parent's new home.
Rest and Relaxation for your Hard Work
The move is complete. You're relieved and exhausted. Now it's time for some serious self-care. It would be easy to roll right into whatever is next. It isn’t advisable, however. Whether it's a massage, coffee with a friend, an afternoon of reading or something else, you need to recharge. Rest and relaxation is the way to do that.
For more tips and information on moving your parent to assisted living, check out our guide: “Making the Move to Assisted Living.”