For many, once they have a conversation with a loved one about moving into an assisted living community, the next steps can seem overwhelming and full of many more questions than answers. If you are in the process of finding the right community for your loved one, read our tips on how to begin the search for a senior living community. As you narrow down your search, you will also need to start preparing your loved one for the move to a new home, a new community. Here’s are topics you should consider during the process of your move to assisted living.
The Physical Move
For many, packing up a home and deciding what to bring with you and what to leave behind can be full of emotional decisions. We suggest creating a “moving to assisted living checklist” will help make it easier. Make sure you give intentional time to this process for your loved one. Making decisions about furniture, decorations, collections, and household items will take time. If you work the process well, your loved one will feel that much more energy to make this new move. Here are a few ideas to help your family pack up and move items into the new senior living community:
- There are moving services specifically for moving older adults. They will help with the move from start to finish. Senior living moving specialists will review measurements of the new living space to help determine what furniture to bring to your loved one’s new home and can help manage an estate sale, find organizations for donations, or help find long-term storage. They will also manage hiring movers, and packing and unpacking.
- Make sure to measure the new apartment, and plan your furniture accordingly. Having a piece of furniture not fit into your loved one’s new space can cause a fair amount of distress on the day of move-in. Better to avoid it.
- While you are packing up your loved one’s home, consider which items are most important and pack those first. This would include medication, toiletries, clothing, bedding, and any other furniture items your loved one will be bringing to the assisted living facility.
- As you consider space constraints, consider taking photos of memorable or special items and create an album for your loved on.
- With clothing, make sure that as you downsize, your loved one picks out comfortable clothes. As well, consider the seasons. Is your location a four-season location? Make sure you pick clothes for every season. You might need to label clothing — ask your new senior community management for specifications.
- Decide together with your loved one where to store family heirlooms such as furniture, jewelry, memorabilia, or other expensive items.
- Just as in any other move, forward mail, cancel utilities, communicate a change of address to family and friends, and communicate with other professionals (lawyers, financial planners, etc.) of the move.
You will have quite a bit of planning and management of transferring medical information to the new assisted living community. This is a very important part of your loved one’s move. Having all medical documents and plans in place will give you peace of mind and will avoid any interruption of medical care.
- Visit your primary care physician to get a physical, make your provider aware of your upcoming move, and receive copies of your latest medical records. Your new assisted living community will have documents that need to be filled out and signed by your doctor. This is also a great time to get a complete list of your current medications.
- You will need to have a conversation with your new community to see what their requirements are for medications. Some communities have their own pharmacy; others will require you to bring your own bottled medication, to begin with.
- Research both doctors and specialists in your new community. Ask for a tour of the closest hospitals, and know where the closest pharmacies are. Figure out who you want to have as your eye doctor, dentist, chiropractor, or any other medical practitioner.
The Emotional Move
Moving into an assisted living community is a major life decision. Senior living experts estimate it can take between three to six months for a loved one to get settled into assisted living. This move will be filled with a lot of emotional ups and downs for both you and your loved one. Remember that you all are doing the best you can and try to give the process the time required for both you and your loved one to settle into this new lifestyle.
- As you plan the move, pick out personal belongings that can help the new assisted living housing feel like home. Surround them with family photos, favorite books and artwork, their favorite blankets, and pillows, or a beloved teacup or mug.
- Consider choosing furniture from your loved one’s home over purchasing new items. They already have a lot of new routines and environments to get used to, so try to make their room full of familiar elements that give them the comfort of home.
- Take some time to add your loved one’s new schedule to your calendar. Knowing their daily routine, when they are engaging in new activities, and when they will have free time for a phone call can help both of you stay connected. You can have peace of mind knowing what your loved one is up to; this is a great way to catch up on what your loved one is enjoying and where you might need to advocate for your loved one.
- It can also be helpful to get the contact information of your loved one’s caretakers. Get to know them so that they are also just a phone call away. The staff is part of your caretaking team and will help all of you through the transition of the move.
Day of Move-In
The management and staff at the new assisted living community will coordinate and schedule your move-in details. The staff will create an inviting environment for move-in day. You will receive keys, and in many communities, you can request to have staff members help hang shelving or photos. Move-in day can get busy, so make sure that everyone drinks water and eats throughout the day. The best thing you can do to support your loved ones is to just be there as they begin to create a new home. Help unpack, sit with your loved ones as contracts are signed, and join them for their first dinner in their new home.
In the weeks ahead, continue to communicate with your loved one and the staff to make sure that they are continuing to settle into their new environment. Again, this probably won’t be a completely smooth transition, but your presence and support can help a loved one find their rhythm in this new season of life.
At Elder Care Alliance, we have been serving older adults in California for almost 110 years. It is our privilege to support your family through the moving process. We have five different senior living communities throughout California. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. No detail is too small when it comes to making sure your home feels like home. Click here to get answers to some of the things our potential and soon-to-be residents in assisted living often ask about.