Very few people admit that they want to put their aging parents into an assisted living facility, yet it often becomes necessary when the elderly person can no longer be cared for at home. And sometimes, for the sanity of the caregiver, it's the only option.
Making the move isn't easy. Here are some tips that can help caregivers and their elderly parents.
Plan ahead. Take the time to thoroughly research options. Finding the right care facility ensures you choose the right one for your parent's needs.
Expect waiting lists. Allow time to move up the lengthy waiting list that many good facilities have.
Visit often. Call and visit often during the first few weeks. When the new surroundings are unfamiliar, seeing a family member can do wonders for raising spirits and making the transition easier. It also helps your parents realize that you haven't forgotten them in their new home.
Make it feel like home. One of the hardest things for your parent is parting with all of those things he or she has accumulated over a lifetime. Make the room feel as much like home as possible. Bring along your elderly parent's family photos, a favorite chair and footstool, a familiar bedspread, and treasured knickknacks. Check with the facility's rule on bringing personal items.
Organize. Make sure your aging parents know where things are. Your aging parents will feel much more in control of their environment when it is easy for them to find what they are looking for. Organize the closets and invest in storage solutions such as baskets or bins.
Make friends. Mom or Dad needs social connections – particularly if they still have full mental capacity. Introduce your parents to other residents – and ask the staff to do the same. Read the activity schedule and choose two or three programs that your parent can attend early on to meet your neighbors and other residents.
Stay positive. It's hard for adult children to see parents moving out of their childhood home and into an "old folks" home. In caregiver's mind, the move represents "the end is near" for their aging parents. Even though you might feel these emotions, do not show them in front of your parent. The transition is very emotional for them, and they need positive reinforcement and support.
Moving your elderly parent into an assisted living facility is never easy, but it can be made less painful for caregivers, family and most importantly, the elder.