Moving into an assisted living facility involves major changes in a senior’s life. From downsizing and selling the house to making Mom’s new apartment feel like home and helping Dad adjust, it’s normal to be concerned that your parents — and even possibly you — will struggle when moving to a new place.
Fortunately, you’re not on your own. The assisted living team members are there to make moving easier, says Jonathan Athanas, executive director of The Arbors at Dracut.
“We hold your hand through everything and make sure everything goes smoothly,” he says.
Downsizing and Selling the House
The move-in process starts long before move-in day. Many older adults who are preparing to move to assisted living are also faced with the overwhelming task of organizing, cleaning, discarding and packing up decades of family history and memories.
To you, it may feel like a breath of fresh air to get rid of the things your parent has accumulated but the family no longer needs. To your loved one, it can feel like they’re getting rid of items that are closely linked to their identities, their past, and their memories.
That’s why many assisted living facilities partner with downsizing specialists.
“We will help guide this process, too,” Athanas says. “If you need movers, we have a list of local movers. If you’re coming from a big Victorian home, we work with specialists who will come into your home and help catalog things and figure out what to bring to your new home. If you’re coming from rehab, we work closely with health care providers to ensure that you don’t experience a gap in services.”
Understanding the Financials
Families must also figure out how to pay for assisted living. Assisted living staff are a great resource for helping families navigate assisted living costs and affordability, from explaining payment structures to understanding different ways to cover assisted living costs
“The process can be scary, and a lot of people don’t know about financing,” Athanas says. “We walk them through their application and where they’re at financially to make sure the can sustain themselves long term.”
Settling In at Home
The assisted living staff plays a critical role in your loved one’s adjustment to their new home and community. You can help them by offering information about any of your parent’s interests, special preferences, or habits.
This not only helps create a more comfortable environment for your loved one, but it also helps the staff notice when there are changes in behavior, which is something they want to pay attention to, Athanas says.
“We want to know if your mom wants an English muffin with raspberry jam every morning,” he says. “Because if she reaches a point where she’s refusing that English muffin with raspberry jam, that’s a change in her behavior, and we monitor those things to make sure they have a high quality of life.”
In many facilities, staff members will have individual meetings with the new resident to explain their particular role in the facility and what that means to the resident. For instance, at The Arbors at Dracut, every new resident goes through an orientation process. After meeting with Athanas, the nursing staff, and the resident care director, the activities director and food service director will stop by.
“The activities director really takes the time to make sure they get asked to go to every activity for the first couple weeks, and our food service director also meets with them and gets to see what that resident likes and dislikes. If they had home favorites, we’ll ask for a recipe to see if we can replicate that in The Arbors. The things they enjoyed at home — we want them enjoy at The Arbors as well.”
Assisted living staff members are familiar with the anxiety seniors feel when moving to a new place, and they have already established procedures and activities that make the transition easier. Use them as a resource throughout the move-in process and the transition weeks that follow.
“The goal of every member of our staff is to assure your parent’s health and happiness,” Athanas says.