Any move, whether it be to a college dorm, a new city, or just a new house across town, can be stressful and emotional. There are memories and familiarity attached to places we live, especially if we’ve lived there for many years. For many aging adults and their families who decide that it would be helpful to move to an assisted living community, the transition can feel overwhelming.
The move into an assisted living community often involves your loved one leaving a home they are comfortable in and into a new, unfamiliar place. However, even though the initial move can be emotional, the health benefits of assisted living make the transition worthwhile. From the initial downsize to taking advantage of all the social perks in your loved one’s new community, we are here to guide you. Keep reading to learn about helpful ways to transition into assisted living.
How to Downsize Before the Move
Typically, your loved one’s living space in assisted living will be smaller than their current home. An assisted living apartment will usually consist of a bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen area. Couples apartments are also available for partners who move into assisted living together. If your loved one is moving into an assisted living apartment with less square footage than their current living situation, they will need to downsize before their move.
The first step to downsizing is making a plan. Sit down with your loved one and map out the order of your tasks and the days you will work on downsizing. For example, you can plan to start with the kitchen, then the living room, then the garage, and so on. Make sure you’re on the same page about how much downsizing needs to happen and make a list of possessions that will need to be packed up, discarded, or donated. If you have enough time and energy, you can even plan a yard sale for the belongings your loved one no longer needs.
Next, prioritize the essential items that your loved one wants to have when they move. Certain belongings will make their new apartment feel more comfortable, such as:
- Family photos
- Their own pillows and bedding
- Favorite books
You can also offer to store seasonal items like holiday decorations and winter jackets in your home for your loved one to free up space in their new apartment.
Throughout the downsizing process, maintain an open dialogue and positive attitude. Take your loved one to visit their new assisted living community a handful of times before they move so that they can gain a familiarity with the space and visualize living there.
Making Assisted Living Feel Like Home
Once you help your loved one downsize, it’s time to officially move into their new community. Even with the best preparation in the world, moving can still feel emotional or nerve-wracking. Helping your loved one make their new apartment feel homier will significantly ease their transition and help them adjust to assisted living.
Include Your Loved One in the Community Search
Before a community is selected and moving day approaches, be sure to include your loved one during every step of the community search. Tour several assisted living communities together and narrow down your top choices based on details, such as:
- Rapport with team members and leadership
- Available amenities
- Scheduled activities
- Meal selection
- Online reviews
- Compatibility with other residents
Including your loved one in the selection process will help ensure they end up in an assisted living facility that is a good fit for their personality and needs.
Bring Meaningful Belongings
During the downsizing process, we mentioned that your loved one should keep a few select sentimental and comfortable items like family photos and favorite pillows. To help them adjust to their new apartment, fill the unfamiliar space with comforting belongings. Even bringing the same wall decor from their previous home will help make the new apartment feel cozy.
Encourage Activity Participation
Another way to help your loved one feel at home in their new assisted living community is to encourage activity participation. Assisted living communities offer daily activities that can include:
- Book clubs
- Guest speakers
- Musical performances
- Exercise classes
- Group outings
- Holiday celebrations
- And more
Participating in these events and activities will help your loved one feel more connected to the other residents in the community. Making friends and bonding with staff members will significantly help your aging parent feel at home.
Keep Supporting Your Loved One
Even after your loved one starts to adjust to assisted living, it is vital to continue to support them throughout their time in the community. Many family members and friends are proactive about supporting their loved ones in the first weeks and months, but be sure to show your support for years to come.
If you live nearby, one of the best things you can do to support your loved one is to visit in person. Even though your loved one will make valuable friendships in their community, there’s still nothing quite like quality time with friends and family. If you don’t live near your loved one, you can visit during holidays, on vacation time, or plan video calls.
Regardless of how often you can visit in person, try to schedule routine phone calls. Consistent and anticipated communication will put your loved one at ease and build excitement. For example, if you call every Sunday afternoon, your loved one will have that conversation to look forward to each week.
During these calls, encourage your loved one to participate in active and social opportunities. These helpful activities will foster a healthy memory, body, and social life for your loved one. You can even motivate them to try something out of their comfort zone and have them let you know how it went next time you talk.
What Your Loved One Can Expect Each Day
It might be helpful for both you and your loved one to have a general idea of what each day will look like in assisted living. This way, your loved one can feel calm and prepared. An average day in assisted living will follow routines each morning, afternoon, and evening.
Each morning, your loved one can wake up at whatever time comes naturally for them. There is no pressure for your loved one to be an early bird or a night owl. They can simply keep their regular sleep routine from before.
Upon waking, your loved one’s day will begin with the support they need. If they need help getting dressed, taking medications, or bathing, a caring staff member will be there to help them with those activities.
After getting ready, your loved one can either make their own breakfast or head to the dining room for a restaurant-style meal with friends. At New Perspective, breakfast is always made to order, so residents can keep their first meal routine or change it up every day. After breakfast, your loved one can participate in a variety of social activities.
In the afternoon, residents enjoy lunch and relaxation. Your loved one always has the option to cook for themselves if they are able; otherwise, they can enjoy a meal in the dining hall. When family members and friends visit, they can join your loved one for a lunchtime meal.
After lunch, many residents participate in more activities, go for walks outside, take a nap, or visit with friends and family. Staff members will also encourage mental exercise with card games, interactive activities, and puzzles.
After a nutritious dinner, your loved one can wind down for the evening. Your loved one can talk about their day with staff members, other residents, or visiting family members. Activities are always available for your loved one to join; otherwise, they can choose to prepare for bed.
Your parent will always be encouraged to keep a helpful routine. So, if they have always read a book, filled out a crossword puzzle, or watched television before bed, they are free to do so in assisted living. Support staff members will help your loved one with evening medications and all other bedtime preparations that your loved one needs assistance with.
The Social Benefits of Assisted Living
Even though the transition to assisted living may feel overwhelming, many valuable benefits make the move worth it. Your loved one will have access to on-site healthcare, housekeeping amenities, transportation services, and more. The most notable perk for many people is the significant social benefits that come with assisted living.
Thanks to the various activities, group outings, and in-house support, your loved one will experience valuable social interaction in assisted living. Thriving social lives are essential for aging adults, as social interaction can help ward off loneliness and subsequent depression and anxiety. Not to mention, a robust social life often leads to a more physically active life, helping keep your loved one in good physical health.
Help Your Loved One Prepare for the Beneficial Move to Assisted Living
Moving into an assisted living community can be a big adjustment for your loved one, but ultimately, it will improve their quality of life. To help your loved one transition, create a downsizing plan, make their new apartment feel like home, and call or visit often. Before your loved one moves in, you can talk with a staff member who will walk your loved one through an average day in the community. Encourage your aging parent to participate in the many engaging activities, as the social and physical benefits of assisted living are incomparable.
If you’re ready to start exploring assisted living communities near you, reach out to New Perspective Senior Living today. We will gladly help you schedule a tour so that you and your loved one can experience our vibrant communities firsthand.