The essential moving to assisted living checklist – Our guide
Assisted living communities are becoming an increasingly viable option of assuring proper care for your elderly loved one. Given the fast pace of life in these times, it may sometimes be overwhelming to double up on duties. For this reason, families are resorting to assisted living to ensure the proper care and well-being of the elderly. There are many benefits to having your elderly relative in an assisted living community, including specialized care, age-appropriate community, and self-independence.
However, making a move can be daunting in a logistical and an emotional sense. Your loved one is leaving memories behind, and there is a whole learning curve to encounter while in a new assisted living community. In light of this, we have prepared a moving to assisted living checklist to make the entire process easier for both you and your parents. Here is an essential guide to facilitating a smooth and manageable transition for your elderly loved one.
1. Explain the transition to your parents and relatives.
Helping your mom and dad understand the transition is the most critical move in your to-do-list. Moving to new environments comes with many emotions, top among them being fear and anxiety. In some cases, your loved one may feel as if they have become a burden, and you are abandoning them. Therefore, it is vital to talk things out to alleviate any doubts or fears your loved one may have. Talk about the positive effects of being in an assisted living community, and offer reassurance that you will be there when they need you.
On the other hand, some seniors are the ones who will initiate the move and look at it as one truly great option for senior living. Maybe they have a friend in one of such communities and know the perks. They will be excited about this new life phase and look forward to it. This is how the moving should be perceived – as a change for better and a new exciting chapter.
You should also make efforts to explain the move to other family members. They also need to be in the loop of your parents’ upcoming move to an assisted living community. It is not unusual for some of them to be against the decision. However, explaining why the transition is necessary can diffuse any tension.
2. Get the paperwork in order.
Although your mom and dad are moving to a new home, it is crucial to ensure that things remain as normal as possible. Part of this includes sorting out all documentation and correspondence to remove any feelings of being cut off that may arise within your loved ones. Here are some of the things that you need to sort out.
Not all assisted living communities have in-house healthcare facilities. Therefore, it is essential to arrange for proper healthcare for your loved ones as they make the transition to their new home. In cases where they are receiving constant monitoring, you should submit the latest medical records to the facility to ensure that their medical care is not interrupted. Depending on the facility’s location, you can maintain the same physician or ask for a referral from them.
You should notify any of the relevant agencies and services of your parents’ change of address. Institutions such as bank, insurance company and other services need to be aware of these changes to ensure delivering important information to your loved ones.
Since your parents will be moving to a new community, you might need to cancel any utility services under their names, such as electricity, gas, water, sewer, internet, home telephone, cable TV, security systems and trash collection. Unless you plan to keep the family home, it makes no sense to pay bills for a home with no occupants. If your parents are going to keep some services, make sure to update their personal information with the utility company to avoid any discrepancies in the future.
3. Have a downsizing plan.
In most cases, the accommodation space at an assisted living community will be smaller than your family home. Therefore, having a solid downsizing plan is essential when creating a moving to assisted living checklist. Set a realistic timeframe for this process, as it may take longer than primarily anticipated. Keep in mind that downsizing for seniors can be a long, intense and emotional, so it is advisable to start at least a month earlier. This will allow them to take their time and sort out their belongings without rushing and panicking.
The things that your loved one will take depends on the provisions of the assisted living community. Not all the belongings in your mom and dad’s home will make the cut. So, you need to sort out the items in terms of priority. Before you start selecting and packing, get the floor plan, map and measure the new space to make sure what can fit and what is needed.
At home, the best would be to go room by room, select and pack what they want to keep and separate the pieces they don’t want to bring. Try to avoid the “maybe” category at the very beginning, as this can make it harder to decide later on. It is helpful to follow the professional organizers’ de-cluttering advice: keep the frequently used and irreplaceable items, and get rid of the ones that have been forgotten or unused for more than a year. You have to be merciless in the selection, especially if the new apartment doesn’t have extra storage space. If possible, involve your loved ones in the packing process, as this will make them feel like part of the decision and make the process easier.
However, to be on the safe side, below are some of the categories that you can prioritize:
For the transition to be smooth and bearable, the assisted living space needs to feel as normal as possible. This especially applies to the living room, where people spend most of the time. To manage this, you may need to bring the most iconic decor and furniture items that make up the home’s style. Such items may include:
- The favorite sofa and rocking chair;
- Kitchen table and chairs;
- Coffee table, end tables and nightstands;
- Movable lights;
- Favorite bed set including duvets, sheets, pillows, and comforters;
- Decorative pieces such as picture frames, paintings, and mantle pieces.
The new environment needs to feel like home and having their favorite belongings with them guarantees it.
Everyone has a favorite piece of dinnerware, and without it, meals do not taste the same. When packing up items to move to the facility, identify what appeals to your mom and dad. As most items come in sets, it is more economical to pick the standout items in each set as you continue with your packing. As a rule of thumb, also include a few extras such that when visitors come to see your parent, they too can have utensils to use. For example, you can pack items in fours to be on the safe side.
There are items that you cannot do without, regardless of where you plan to stay. These include your loved one’s clothing, medications, and personal documents. Important documents should be stored separately in a convenient place. Make sure your parents know exactly where they are located.
Regarding the clothes, this would be a great moment to purge what is necessary. Let your parent decide about that. Unless you want to keep some items for yourself or give them to other relatives, you can sell or donate what is no longer needed.
Some personal items are irreplaceable. These include various memorabilia, souvenirs, photos, letters and other dear knick-knacks. Other items to consider including are specially curated photo albums and home videos. As your parent settles in in the assisted living facility, they can use these as icebreakers to establish new relationships with their fellow residents in the community. To make things more convenient, you can convert physical photos to digital formats. This way, you can preserve their quality and make them accessible from the many digital devices now available. Not only will this reduce the amount of bulk to deal with, but it also ensures that the photos last forever.
Electronic devices and appliances
You may also need to provide some electronic devices to make a stay a lot more comfortable for your loved one. Depending on the facility, some items may not be included. You can consider items such as a TV, radio, mini-fridge, alarm clock, coffee maker, and kettle. Although the items may be smaller, they will still provide the same convenience as those present at your family home.
Books and magazines are a great way to keep your parent entertained while in the assisted living community. Even though most facilities have recreation rooms, they may sometimes not have the content that appeals to your parents. You can also include their hobby or craft equipment, sporting goods, chess, board games, playing cards, jigsaw puzzles or other favorite pastime effects. Having their personal entertainment items can make a move more comfortable and reduce the sense of deviation from the norm. These personal favorite entertainment stuff are also terrific for memory care. You can also consider providing a journal where your parents can keep a personal account of their experience during their stay at the facility. Journaling is an excellent form of dealing with new environments and helps with the adjustment process.
You have various options regarding the items that were discarded as unnecessary in the de-cluttering, or that cannot fit the new setting. You can place them in storage, pass along to family and friends, sell or donate them. Donating can be done simply at many charities such as Goodwill. Selling unnecessary possessions can make extra money. You can do it the old-fashioned way by organizing a yard sale or selling it online on marketplaces like eBay, Craigslist or Facebook. Younger relatives can help with that as this can be time-consuming for seniors to manage.
4. Do a trial run.
If your mom or dad are doubtful about moving, another thing to have on your list is to include a few trial runs. It does not mean that your mom and dad will stay overnight at the facility. Instead, you can accompany them to attend some of the facility’s activities to help them establish initial rapport with the residents there. Doing this makes it easier for your loved ones to settle in once they make the actual move. They will already be familiar with their peers and the staff.
5. Establish an effective line of communication.
Maintaining communication with loved ones every day is a great way to make their stay more manageable and comfortable at the facility. Find out who the primary caregivers for your parents will be and what will be the best way to communicate with them. It is also essential to know who else to contact should the primary caregivers not be available. Make sure to provide them with your phone number and email address, where they can contact you at any time.
If your parents are under medication regimens and require constant medical follow-ups, it is essential to have a tool that helps you keep track of their regimen and progress. One such tool is the Gherry App.
Gherry gives you 360-degree visibility on everything related to your loved one’s care. If your parents are not using mobile phones or tablets, you can set up everything for them, and arrange with your parents’ facility caregiver to update their daily activities with just a few clicks. You can program the medications intakes, monitor health through trackers’ reports, and easily organize all care activities.
Additionally, you can store relevant health information, maintain a schedule of doctor’s appointments, plan visits and activities. What is convenient is that you can have both mom and dad in your mini network at the same time with their information synched. You can include family members and keep updated continuously those caring for your parents. You will have your loved one’s essential information at your hand’s reach at any time, anywhere.
When should parents move to assisted living?
There is no set time on when to move your loved one to assisted living. It all depends on a few factors, which can vary among the elderly. However, there are tell-tale signs that can help you make a decision. The most telling situation is when you notice that their needs are not adequately met by in-home care, or if they feel lonely. In such cases, it is best to move them to an assisted living community where they can interact with peers of the same age and receive round the clock care.
How do you move a loved one into assisted living?
The first step, of course, is choosing the right assisted living facility. Research the facilities proximate to your or other relatives’ location so you can visit often. It is essential to determine the available accommodation options, cost, healthcare support and other amenities. There are also other aspects to consider: if your parent is single, or you have both parents who want to continue living together but maybe have different care needs; do they have pets and don’t want to separate from them; do they have some special diet menu or care requirements. Consulting your parent’s primary physician is a great place to start as they usually have a list of recommended facilities.
Last but not least, your parents’ wishes where and how they want to live will be the final word in making the decision. Before moving your loved one, finding all the facility’s relevant information is the next thing to do. This will help you determine what you need to prepare for the new accommodation setting.
Do you bring your own furniture to an assisted living community?
It all depends on the facility and the size of the living space. Some senior living facilities provide furnished allocated units or apartments. If your parents insist on keeping their furniture, this may be one of the determining factors in choosing the right facility for them. However, it would be best if you discussed this with the facility before making the actual move. If you need to transfer some furniture pieces, confirm in advance the floor plan and measurements to avoid problems on a moving day.
What if the parent health worsens at the assisted living community?
Keep in mind that not all assisted living facilities have a doctor or nurse available at all times, but they must have a licensed nurse on call may the case of emergency occur. Usually, the family is responsible for managing all medical care when needed. Some facilities have departments for memory care, medical assistance and skilled nursing, and they can move the resident there if necessary. In case your parent needs additional medical attention, and the facility doesn’t provide these services, you will probably need to arrange temporarily or permanently moving your parent elsewhere for adequate medical treatment.
Embracing change can be difficult for anyone. A solid plan to facilitate the move to a senior assisted living community aids in making the transition much more manageable. With the above checklist, you have a comprehensive guide to ensure that your mom and dad’s moving to the new environment goes smoothly and less stressfully. After the storm of the moving passes, you will have a peace of mind knowing they are well taken care of, and they can comfortably enjoy their golden age life.