Make sure you have done your homework. Preparation is the key to success. (Senior Living Experts can help with this part!)
Choose a community that is a good match for the care needs & location.
Try to pick a place that nurtures what is important to the senior be it religious services, bringing their beloved pet, or a pool for swimming.
It is very important to involve the senior in the selection process if possible.
Evaluate cost – get past the ‘sticker shock’ of the monthly rent and use a comparison worksheet if necessary to help determine affordability and value.
Listen to the concerns and fears of the senior and address them.
Let them know they are NOT losing control.
Create a pro’s & con’s list.
Go through some “what if’s” and keep the end goal in mind.
Try to make sure everyone in the family is on the same “team”.
Realize that if you wait, your selection may be limited, especially if a crisis occurs.
Visit the community as much as possible before the move to meet residents and staff as well as try the food.
Review the contract carefully.
Read resident rights and know the process for voicing complaints, compliments or concerns.
Walk the building to get a feel for where everything is before you move and review activity schedules to plan ahead and have events to look forward to.
Allow as much time as possible before the move to prepare – but don’t put it off. Hire a Senior Move Manager if necessary.
Meet with the move-in coordinator who will be helpful on many levels, the most important being that they have done this many times and may have additional advice or help. They can help decide what will come from home and where it can be placed in the new apartment.
Do NOT schedule the move-in for the weekend; try to move during the week when the community is fully staffed.
Inquire about a “Be Our Guest” program. Some communities provide furnished rooms for a few days at no charge to help the future resident get acclimated.
Be sure to complete the resident history questionnaires before moving in as it helps the staff in the building become even more involved with the new resident if they already know their history, likes and dislikes.
If you are out of town and need to fly in to help with the move, inquire about a guest apartment at the community. They are usually at a rate much lower than a hotel, and you will get to spend more quality time with your loved one during this transition.
AFTER THE MOVE
Realize that Relocation Stress Syndrome (RSS) is real and common no matter how old you are.
Understand that everyone is different and some people may show no signs where others may be affected for the first couple of days or even months.
Be aware of the signs of RSS such as anxiety, depression, disorientation, and exhaustion. Keep in mind these can be exacerbated by dementia, mental impairment or poor physical health.
Mental stress – overwhelming details, new phone numbers, canceling and ordering new services, cost issues.
Emotional stress – leaving long time familiar home with lots of memories, anxiety about friends & family. Feelings of loss.
Physical stress – packing, lifting, sorting, cleaning.
Be aware that you (the caregiver) may be feeling sad or guilty and this is normal.
You can hire a home care aid to help your parent through the confusion of moving to the new place who can actually stay with them 24 hours a day for the first week or so.
Encourage them to retain patterns from home, such as subscribing to the newspaper, having afternoon tea, or taking walks.
Invite family and friends over to dinner in the private dining room of their “new home.”
Family should take care to treat the senior the same way they did before. Come to visit daily if that is what you did when they were home. Eat Sunday dinner with them if that was your routine. The only thing that has changed is their address.
There is usually a resident run ‘welcome committee’ that will help new residents to fit in and, well, feel welcome. They will network to find people with similar interests to introduce them to. They can also have meals with the new resident to get over the hurdle of “who is going to sit with me?” They can also suggest clubs or groups they may be interested in.
Be sure to read welcome packets that will list important names and numbers as well as community ‘rules.’
Meet all the managers and know their role and how to get in touch with them.
Get to know the resident program director. This person knows everyone in the building and can help with introductions and encourage participation in activities.
Visit often; bring grandchildren and pets when you can.
Stay positive and remember why you and your loved on together made this decision.
For more help, please contact us. We have helped many families through this process and we would like to help yours.
Feel free to print out these tips anytime.