We have reluctantly decided that it is best for our parents and us as constant caregivers to place our parents in assisted living. Any thoughts on how to make this as painless and easy as possible?
—Gloria in Suwanee
Very few people want to put their parents in assisted living, but it does become necessary as their mental and physical health declines. Additionally, for the sake of the caregivers’ sanity, it is the only option.
Plan Ahead. Do your homework and due diligence on facilities that meet, and will continue to meet their needs. You only want to move them once.
Visit Often. Call and visit often during the first few weeks. Encourage their friends to do so. In unfamiliar surroundings, this can work wonders for raising spirits and making their new world easier to adapt to. Most importantly, your folks won’t feel abandoned and forgotten.
Make It Feel Like Home. Parting with familiar furniture and keepsakes accumulated over a lifetime is wrenching emotionally to say the least. Plan to bring a favorite chair, family photos, a familiar bedspread or comforter, and treasured knick knacks. Check with the place that rules on what can be brought.
Organize Their New Surroundings. Make sure they know where things are. They will feel much more in control if it is easy for them to find what they need. Talk to staff about where things should be kept.
Get Them Involved. Introduce yourself and your parents to other residents and ask the staff to do the same. Read the activity schedule and choose a couple of programs or activities that will give them the chance to meet their new neighbors. Make sure they have a place at the table with the others during mealtime.
Stay Positive. It is hard, if not traumatic, to move parents out of a home of many years and into an “old folks home”. It is the end of an era for family and their loved ones. Even though you may feel these string emotions, this transition is even harder on them, and they may need all the positive reinforcement and support you can give them.