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The transition into an assisted living community can be hard for some seniors to face. Although they will retain their autonomy, entering an assisted living residence means moving to a new home and accepting that they are not as independent as they once were. Family and friends have an important role to play during this transition period. By supporting their loved one and helping with the moving process, they can provide both physical and emotional support to make entering this next stage of life easier and more comfortable. To that end, there are certain pieces of advice that should be kept in mind to ensure a smooth transition.

Do's and Don'ts for Family and Friends

Do Tackle Sensitive Matters Directly

There are many things to consider: Money management, now and as care needs increase.

Care and service plans are a road map that provides direction for individualized care to a person and contains the goals and desired outcomes in a client’s condition for the assisted living residence. It also serves as documentation of the care given and the related charges and fees for that care.

Powers of attorney for personal care, wills and health-care decisions are also an important part of getting your affairs in order. It does little good to dance around these matters and they are best addressed in a frank manner. It is also important to involve the resident-to-be in these discussions. It is their life, after all, and their input can help smooth out any conflicts that may arise.  Being involved in these talks can also help make the transition to retirement care easier since it gives the individual control over the choices being made.

Don't Feel Guilty

It is natural to feel guilty about moving a loved one into assisted living. While guilt is understandable, don’t let yourself wallow in these feelings. Remember that assisted living will benefit your loved one by securing their health and well being while still allowing them personal freedom.  Equally as important is the impact on your health and well being, because the heavy burden of caring for your loved one takes its toll on the caregiver.

Do Keep in Touch

Staying in touch with, and visiting, your loved one has several benefits. The most obvious is to simply know that they are not being abandoned, that you care and want to maintain the bond with your loved one. The second benefit is that keeping in touch lets you check on their condition, learn about how they are handling the transition, and determine if there is anything else you can do to help. A third advantage is that you can speak with the staff to learn about how your loved one is getting on with other residents and if their needs are being met properly.  And finally, it allows you to keep an eye on their care plans and related costs, if you are permitted.

Don't Hold Their Hand

As an addendum to the above tip, it's important not to be involved to the point that your loved one begins to feel stifled, patronized, or feel like their independence is being infringed upon. It's important that they have time to get used to their new living arrangement, make new friends, and become involved in the community and activities that are offered. Striking a balance so you can stay involved with your loved one, but not to the point where you risk infringing on their independence, can sometimes be tricky, but the ability of your loved one to flourish in their new environment is well worth it.

Tips for Making the Transition Easier

The above guidance is meant to help make the transition emotionally easier on all parties involved. For more logistical concerns, consider the following:

  • Because assisted living suites are generally smaller studio suites much consideration should be given to the task of downsizing. Pick furniture that has sentimental value and will work in their new suite. Moving consultants can assist in this task and may provide the objectivity needed.
  • Pack well before the scheduled move-in date and, if the staff allows, begin moving items in ahead of time for a smoother transition.
  • Remember to bring personal items like favourite decorations, photographs, mementos, etc., in order to help make the room feel more like home.
  • Let the staff know about your loved one's likes, dislikes, habits, and desires. The staff may be trained in senior care, but they don't know much about their new resident yet. Helping them out will speed up this understanding.
  • It is natural for complaints to crop up in the period following a transition. Take these concerns seriously and see if you can work with staff to find ways to alleviate them.

TheCareGuide.com is an online repository of information and guidance for seniors and their families that has been providing insights into elder care and housing solutions since 1996. Our guide can be used to help determine the best living and aDo's and Don'ts for Family and Friends When Moving to Assisted Living options for you or your loved ones. More information and advice on senior living solutions can be found by contacting us at 1-800-311-CARE (2273) or info@thecareguide.com.

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