It’s official, you or your loved one are planning to move into a senior community. While one of the biggest decisions your family will make, what comes next will require just as much thought and support: the transition to senior living. Here are some tips to help you ensure it’s successful.
1. Understand the Emotion
While moving to senior living may be practical, it’s still a major life transition. There’s likely a mix of emotion – what you’re leaving behind and fear of the unknown, even if you’re looking forward to the many benefits. Some common fears for seniors include: running out of money, loss of independence and being isolated. It’s important to have someone in which to share these fears and concerns as a little empathy can go a long way in providing comfort and peace of mind.
2. Give Yourself Time
Or your loved one for that matter. A change this big isn’t something most people can process overnight. That’s why it’s so important to plan ahead rather than waiting until a crisis hits. This gives you time to grieve the change and start to look forward to the new beginnings that senior living offers. The more you or your loved one is involved in planning and implementing the move, the more confidence and ownership is felt in the decision.
3. Become a Regular
You don’t have to wait until moving day to familiarize yourself with the senior living community. Sure you did the initial tour, but actually getting to know the community itself, the staff and new neighbors beforehand can help you or your loved one to feel much more comfortable. So visit often to enjoy a meal or even participate in activities. Plus, it’s a great way to get any lingering questions answered.
4. Focus on the Positives
There are numerous benefits to positive thinking, including the ability to cope with stress more effectively. Luckily there are plenty of positives to focus on in senior living – that’s why you chose it right? From worry-free living and spacious accommodations to restaurant-style dining and resort-like amenities to all the clubs, classes, outings and events. And don’t forget the peace of mind in having help available 24-hours a day and an environment designed for seniors with just the right amount of support to enhance independence.
5. Plan Your Space
Having a plan for the space beforehand can be another way to ease into the transition for your or your loved one. Ask the community for a copy of the floor plan as well as any recommendations and/or restrictions on what you can bring. Then on moving day you can quickly set up the space so it feels like home with photos, keepsakes, personal items and furniture pieces that are comfortable and familiar. And don’t forget to bring clothes, shoes, toiletries, even favorite snacks, books and music.
6. Make a Buddy
We all know what it’s like to be the new kid. That’s why senior living communities go above and beyond to help you feel welcome. Most have new resident ambassadors (or some type of buddy system) in which they pair you with a person or persons who share similar interests. These residents have been where you’ve been and can give you the inside scoop while introducing you around. Check with the community about this, if they don’t mention it first!
Bonus Tip – Be There
If your loved one is transitioning to senior living, one move you can make is to let them know you’ll still be there for them. Many seniors worry about being left behind so it’s important to make sure they know that’s not the case by pre-planning some visits on the calendar and/or times you’ll call. If you always have lunch once a week – still do that, and encourage other family members and friends to do so as well. This will give your loved one something to look forward to and help them to feel reassured.
For more information on how to successfully transition to senior living, check out our Family Decision Guide!