If your parent is in the process of moving into a senior living community, emotions are likely running high for you and for your parent. As you work with your parent to downsize their possessions and sell their home, you may feel like you are closing a major chapter in your family life. However, it is important to note that your parent is also embarking on a new and exciting chapter as they move into their new senior living community home.
Your parent may be volleying from feeling nervous or sad to feeling excited and happy. This is normal, and you can do your best to support their upcoming move by making the transition into their new home as seamless as possible. While some of these transition tips focus on the actual process of moving, others focus on the transition to community living, which could take weeks or even months in their new home.
1. Offer to take care of more tedious chores
Certain aspects of moving are simply no fun, no matter what your age. Offer to assist your mom with some of the more tedious chores of moving, such as coordinating with the moving company or filing change-of-address forms.
2. Join your parent for any pre-move events at their new community
Often, if your parent has had the chance to plan for their move into their new community, there will be time to stop in their new campus to enjoy activities, meals, or other welcome opportunities. These events are the perfect way to ease into community living, introducing your parent to key staff members and even new neighbors or friends. If possible, encourage your parent to accept these invitations and offer to attend as well in order to be a familiar face and touchstone of support.
3. Be present during moving day
Moving day is sure to be full of excitement and stress. Ease your dad’s transition by simply being there to help with unpacking, coordinating movers, sitting nearby for the contract signing, or to enjoy their first meal at his new home. Your presence can go a long way to calming nerves and reassuring them about their decision to move.
4. Rally family and friends to call and send support
The transition to their new home doesn’t stop after your parent’s boxes are all unpacked. The transition to senior community living can last weeks or months as your parent meets new people, makes new friends, and gets used to new schedules. Remind your parent that they have plenty of familiar faces pulling for them by coordinating other family members and loved ones to send cards or packages and call to check in. Ideally, you can set up a calendar to assure that your parent is getting this special contact at least a few times a week. Try using a shared Google Drive calendar or a free program like Lotsa Helping Hands to keep callers and letter writers on a schedule.
5. Ask questions about how things are going
When visiting or calling your parent, ask questions that require specific answers about how things are going in their new home. Instead of asking simple questions like “How are things?”, try to aim for more specific questions like “What did you have for dinner?” or “Did you attend the gardening program this afternoon?” These answers can help you determine how your mom is feeling and thriving at her new home.
6. Enlist the opinion of the professionals
Don’t rely on just your parent to report how their transition to community living is going. As parents sometimes do, you may only hear either complaints or compliments if you only rely on their perspective. Be sure to check in with the professionals at the senior community a few times during the first month, asking how your parent is adjusting. These senior care professionals have years of experience and will be able to tell you if there are any concerns.
7. Trust your intuition
If you believe that your dad is having a hard time, even if he is only saying good things, trust your intuition. Visit a few more times, add a little extra TLC to phone calls, and even consider a visit from their doctor if you are concerned. Transition takes time, and it can be emotionally jarring for some seniors. Getting your parent the professional help they need can aid in their successful transition.
The transition into senior living can be emotional, and it may take longer than you originally expected. However, with support and encouragement, your parent will eventually enjoy living in their senior living community. It won’t be long before they are making meaningful connections with professionals and neighbors who will become a part of their extended family.