Moving is often described as one of life’s most stressful events. It requires careful planning, days of work, and physical and emotional energy; followed by an adjustment period. For this reason, we advise families to choose long-term care facilities carefully when helping a senior loved one move. It is best to think of this transition as permanent and anticipate how future needs will be met at the facility to the best of your ability.
You will likely need to help your loved one pack and move all their belongings, possibly even sell their home. This can be especially daunting for adult children who live in a different states. Make a plan to travel and set a time frame to get the move accomplished. This is a great way to offer support through the transition and help them get settled. You can also help coordinate the move using a senior relocation service. These services help pack and organize, as well as specialize in downsizing, and even drop off furniture/ etc. for donations. This is definitely not something you want to go through twice!
It will take some time and adjusting for your loved one’s new apartment to truly feel like home. Set up family photos, and their favorite decorations. Brings their favorite music, movies, puzzles, games, and really any activities that will help make things feel familiar. Arranging a homey atmosphere is a start, but it takes time to establish a new routine. It may cause more anxiety and stress to have to restart the process.
Many senior living communities have relationships with physicians who regularly make rounds at the community. Establishing a relationship with a primary care provider is so important for monitoring your senior loved one’s health. Doctors are trained to notice patterns in labs, cognition, and behavior over time, which can lead to faster diagnosis and overall better management of health. It is also a process to transfer prescriptions and insurance information to your loved one’s new home. It is ideal to establish all medical care at a new permanent home.
Many communities have various levels of care within assisted living, and also have a nearby unit for specialized memory care. When you start to notice signs that more care may be needed, encourage your loved one to get involved and meet other residents in that program. Seeing familiar faces will make new daily care routines or transitions seem less daunting. It is much easier to move from one apartment within a community to another, with the same care team present for support, as opposed to moving to a new community entirely.
Nursing staff are trained to recognize when a level of care plan needs to be adjusted, or it is time to consider memory care. The staff at senior living communities will often become like family for your senior loved one. They are the primary caregivers who determine what conditions can be safely managed in certain settings. Additionally, the policy may dictate a move into memory care and this takes the responsibility off the family to determine when is the “right time.” Additionally, your loved one’s doctor may be the best person to help explain a changing situation. People with dementia are often far past the point of realizing they even need help throughout the day. It is okay and even encouraged to rely on the community’s health care team to watch for changes. It’s their job!
For all of these reasons, we strongly encourage families to consider communities that have both assisted living and memory care. It is hard to take time to help and organize a move for a loved one. If they should need memory care down the road the last thing you want to do is restart the whole process. If you need advice about senior living for your loved one, please contact us! We are always here for support.