The process of moving can be a bit daunting under any circumstance, but for those transitioning to senior living, it can be particularly stressful. Though your loved one may have moved many times before, this transition is an entirely different experience because, to him or her, it also represents the entry into a new life phase. In addition to managing the myriad tasks involved in coordinating logistics, family members may find themselves dealing with unexpected emotions as well. But it’s important to remember that this journey your loved one is embarking on will lead to an improved quality of life and with some preparation and understanding, it can be a positive experience.
Many people wait to make the move to senior living until after a crisis occurs, which compounds the stress on both the resident and the family. Starting the search early, with both current and future needs and preferences in mind, gives your loved one a voice during decision-making. Preparing as a family and including your loved one in each step can streamline the process, reduce stress and even make the process enjoyable.
When approaching the topic with your loved one, listen carefully so that you fully understand concerns and what is behind them, and can ask thoughtful questions. Remember to address fears in a dignified and respectful manner, and keep your loved one in the center of the decision.
Common Reasons for Making the Move
- Home maintenance or safety issues due to stairs or falls
- Inability to drive, contributing to a lack of socialization and reduced daily physical activity
- Assistance needed with medication, meal preparation, and bathing
- An opportunity to be closer to family or a support system
- Decline in memory or cognitive abilities
- Increased frequency of ER and hospital visits
Pros and Cons of Family Caregiving
Being a family caregiver has its benefits – there is an existing relationship of trust and familiarity with the person providing the care, and family members get to spend time together and share moments that they might not have otherwise. This is especially the case when a loved one needs minimal assistance, such as help with transportation or cooking meals.
However, studies have shown that adult children and spouses who work full-time and provide care to a loved one are more likely to have fair or poor health themselves. The strains on time and energy and the stress of being responsible for recognizing and meeting healthcare needs and providing the right amount of social and nutritional support, along with managing other personal and family needs, can be debilitating as the level of care needed rises.
A senior living community, staffed 24/7 with a licensed nurse and team of well-trained caregivers, provides the kind of care that offers the opportunity to revive relationships. As residents settle into a new community, family members often find that the stress and emotional strain of being a caregiver is lifted and time spent with their loved one is more enjoyable.
Choosing a Senior Living Community
Many families begin their search with a few basic criteria, such as location, housekeeping, and meals. However, it’s important to find the right fit for care and lifestyle as well, and at times the possibilities can seem endless and even a little intimidating. To simplify the search, Belmont Village has created a comprehensive free guide that covers the range of options for senior living and offers some helpful hints and tools for finding a place that best fits your family’s current and future needs.
Once you’ve chosen a community, plan ahead for budgeting, visits, engagement, travel commitments, and the timeframe of the transition. Take the time to meet the staff and caregivers of the community and your loved one’s new neighbors.
Creating a photo album of the old home is one of the most effective ways to close the chapter and make the new beginning more exciting. Organize and decorate the new space as a family and consider throwing a house-warming party with the neighbors to begin forming friendships. Bringing along a beloved pet can also help bring familiarity and comfort to your loved ones new home.
Trust Your Decision
During the transition it is important that as a family you continue to visit and support the move while allowing your loved one to explore his or her independence in the new place. Give your loved one space and time to adjust to their new home, develop friendships and establish trust. Encourage them to become engaged within the community, participate in programs and take advantage of the amenities that make up their new home. Before you know it, your loved one will be showing you around.