By now you've familiarized yourself with the many care housing options and shopped around for the best long-term care facility for your loved one's needs. Moving day is just around the corner, and anxiety has begun to set in. So what now?
Even if you've done all the research and found the perfect place, making the transition to care housing can be extremely difficult, even traumatic, for the senior making the move as well as his or her family.
Whether your loved one will be moving from his or her own home, from a relative's place, or even from another care housing location, it's the change that's hard. Being uprooted and having to get used to new neighbors and staff members, new caregivers and new rules is a significant challenge.
It's common for seniors in this situation to experience feeling a loss of control. It's also common for family members to feel guilty and inadequate over "institutionalizing" their loved one and not being able to take care of him or her on their own.
This move is bound to be charged with emotions on both sides. But there are lots of things that you can do to make your loved one's transition to care housing easier, and even turn it into a positive experience.
Plan as far in advance as you can. The stress and anticipation of moving to care housing will be curbed as your plans fall into place. Make a list of what your loved one wants to bring. Most care housing will allow new residents to bring in furniture (as long as it's approved by the management and deemed safe) and personal effects.
Having familiar things in an unfamiliar environment is comforting no matter what your age. And involving the senior in the planning process will help her regain some sense of control.
Start "Moving" Early
If your loved one is moving from a longtime family home to care housing, chances are likely that downsizing is in order before you start packing things up. Enlist help from family and friends.
Help the senior make decisions about where she wants things to go: with her to the new residence, to a certain person, in storage or to be sold. If the task seems overwhelming or you just don't have the time, you may want to contact an estate sale professional.
Focus on the Positive
Think about the positive aspects of your loved one's move to care housing. Focus on these aspects and try to help your loved one see them, too. Whether it's the opportunity to make new friends, being able to enjoy less responsibility, or simply having the care and support she needs to be as independent as possible-all of these are things to be grateful for.
Encourage Your Loved to Keep Doing What They Love
Your loved one's life shouldn't fall by the wayside just because her location has changed. Continuing to do the things that make her happy and fulfilled will help her adjust during this period of transition.
Encourage her to participate in activities offered by the facility and continue to pursue her hobbies. Make it easier for her by giving her the supplies she needs to do them. Small gifts such as books, magazines, knitting materials and puzzles are most welcome.
Stay in Touch
Once your loved one moves to care housing, visit regularly and ask other family and friends to do the same. If she is able, take her home for a weekend visit every once in a while. Exchange letters (with recent photos!), postcards and phone calls regularly.
Videotape special events that your loved one isn't able to attend and bring the tape along when you visit. If the facility permits outside food, ask the senior if she would like you to bring anything special the next time you visit.
Written by senior housing writer Nikki Jong.