It is not uncommon that the decision to move brings up a lot of emotions for your loved one. It is likely that health events have brought unmet needs to everyone’s attention. It’s understandably difficult for an elder to let go of the history and comfort of his or her current home. Shopping for a new home can be stressful for anyone, and this situation can be particularly emotional.
There is a lot you can do as a family to increase the likelihood of a successful move and transition. Consider the following tips when evaluating assisted living facilities:
Let your loved one pick the facility
Be sure to include your loved one in the decision making process. Your loved one’s life choices may be limited, but losing control over significant decisions (like where to live) is demoralizing and can cause anger and depression. Your loved one is much more likely to be happy with the move if he or she at least made the final decision of where to move.
Read the residency agreement thoroughly
Make sure your loved one understands the rules and agrees to the conditions. There may be a minimum standard for health and independence. Know the policies concerning cancellation of the contract, nonpayment of fees and procedures if your loved one has a grievance. Make sure he or she understands what is included in the standard price and the cost of any additional services.
Participate in the creation of the service plan
A service plan will include arrangements regarding provisions for special diets, recommendations for outside care providers if needed and contracting for services beyond the standard package. Help the facility’s professionals get to know your loved one so they will benefit from the services provided.
Visit and call often
Many elders feel lonely when they first move into a shared living facility. Frequent contact will reassure them that they are not forgotten. Eventually, they will make friends with the other residents and no longer feel so alone.
Attend family activities
Assisted living facilities often have family picnics or other activities designed to accommodate the residents’ children and grandchildren. Participating in these is a simple but very effective way to give your loved one a needed boost in morale.
Get to know the staff
Despite some of the challenges of caring for people in a facility who are used to living on their own, many staff members of assisted living facilities form strong bonds with residents, and they often become like family. It’s distressing to see people they have come to love decline, move away or die. By showing empathy and understanding to the staff and asking about their lives, you are helping them help your loved one.