How to Ease the Transition into Assisted Living
Packing up a home and moving can be physically exhausting at any age. For older adults who often live in the same house for many years, moving can also be emotionally challenging. The sentimental attachment to a home, especially if it’s where they raised a family, might make a senior reluctant to make a change. Even for those who believe the transition to assisted living is a good move, leaving a house full of memories behind can be emotional.
In fact, moving is rated as one of life’s major stressors. It ranks right up there with the death of a loved one and losing your job. For seniors, the unique challenges presented by moving led the medical community to create the diagnosis of relocation stress syndrome (RSS). The symptoms can include anxiety, confusion and loneliness. So, if you or an older family member is struggling despite the desire to make a move, know that you aren’t alone.
How to Ease the Transition into Assisted Living
These tips may be helpful in easing the stress and anxiety associated with moving into assisted living.
Establish a reasonable timeline
For many seniors, transitioning to assisted living means moving from a larger space to a smaller one. They’ll be faced with decisions about what to keep, what to give to family members, and what to donate. That takes time and patience. Trying to rush through it in one weekend might increase anxiety and agitation for everyone. Unless you must stick with a tight timeline, try to downsize and prepare for this transition over a few weeks or months.
If you’re at a loss for how to get this process started, it might be helpful to hire a professional. Senior move managers can assist with every detail of relocation, from hiring a moving company to setting up the new apartment.
Get involved before moving
Transitioning from a private home to an assisted living community is a big change. It can make an older adult apprehensive about what to expect after moving, especially if they don’t know anyone who already lives at the retirement community. But it’s usually a change that significantly improves quality of life. By getting involved in events and activities at the community before moving day, the future resident will begin to see the advantages firsthand.
Talk with the staff to identify opportunities to get involved in now, before moving day. At Freedom Square of Seminole, for example, residents enjoy swimming in a heated indoor pool. It’s great exercise, as well as a good way to reduce stress. Or you could join them for a woodworking project or a nature walk. This will not only help you or your aging parent meet new people, but it also gives you a head start on learning how to navigate around the community. That sense of familiarity can make relocating less stressful.
Take memories with you
Fortunately for today’s seniors, there are a variety of technologies that make it easy to capture memories and bring them along to your new home. It can be as simple as taking photos to create a scrapbook or digital photo album. Or you can use an easy app like FotoPlay or MAGIX Photostory Deluxe to create a video or slideshow. This might be a great project for the youngest generation of the family to lend a hand with!
Before you begin downsizing and removing anything, take a walk around the house and document all the family’s favorite places. Don’t forget to take photos of the outside, too — a perennial garden, birdbath, feeders, window boxes, and the old swing under the tree. All these photos will help keep the memories alive after the transition to assisted living is complete.
Create a plan for moving day
To make the actual day of the move less stressful, create a solid plan in advance. Assemble a box or suitcase of the essential items you’ll want to keep with you instead of sending with the movers. Some things to include might be:
- Few extra changes of clothing and personal garments
- Pajamas, robe, socks and slippers
- Hygiene items, like face cleanser and dental care
- Medications, supplements and medical supplies
- Paper products, such as toilet paper, facial tissue and paper towels
- Favorite snacks and bottled water
- Important papers and financial documents
Welcome and encourage visitors
Once you or your loved one is unpacked, start inviting friends and family to stop by for a visit. Keep in mind, however, that not everyone is familiar with retirement communities. Some may have the wrong impression about assisted living and be hesitant to visit the first time. They may need a little extra encouragement.
Plan a housewarming party or schedule different visitors to come for lunch or dinner on various days. Once loved ones have visited the first time, they’ll likely be more comfortable making return trips on their own.
Take a Video Tour of Freedom Square of Seminole
One great way to see the highlights of Freedom Square of Seminole’s assisted living is to enjoy this three-minute video tour. For out-of-towners, it’s the next best thing to being here in person! Take a look at our premier Pinellas County assisted living community and then contact us to schedule an in-person tour at your convenience.