If you have a senior loved one, such as a parent, who is no longer able to safely care for himself or herself, you may be looking for assisted living accommodation for them. Assisted living provides a safe and friendly living environment with full housekeeping services, restaurant-style dining, social activities and outings.
If your loved one has an existing health condition, you will need a facility that offers licensed nursing services, such as those at McKnightPlace.com/skilled-nursing. Once you and your family have decided on a place that’s just right, the next step is to prepare for the move-in. It can be hard to get ready to move into an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. The transition period can sometimes be a long one. Whether your loved one is living close or far away, you still remain a primary caregiver and will be able to offer a lot of support during the transitionary period.
Getting Ready to Downsize
Downsizing is an unavoidable part of preparing to move to an assisted living facility. Whether it’s taking clothes to the Salvation Army or letting go of an old armchair, getting rid of things your family has accumulated over the years can be heart-wrenching even if they’re no longer needed. To an elderly family member, it can feel like they’re letting go of the treasured memories of their former life. But this is a necessary transition because assisted living accommodation is compact and there will be limited storage room.
Family caregivers are usually responsible for helping parents deal with conflicting feelings about downsizing, and this can be difficult. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help make it easier for your loved one to deal with these changes.
Donate to a Good Cause
One thing that can make it easier for your parent to downsize is by helping them to donate their items to a good cause. Although your loved one may want to cling onto some possessions, once she recognizes that she no longer needs them and that someone else could really use them, it can be easier to let them go. If you have large items, like furniture to let go, charities like Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, Value Village/Savers, and ReStore will be only too happy to arrange to collect them from the home.
Enlist Some Help
Get family and friends to help with downsizing and packing up things for the move. This can be invaluable for a loved one who is struggling with the transition because you can share memories and laughter while you work. Try not to let your parent get too sentimental about her possessions as this will make her reluctant to part with them.
Have a Farewell Celebration
Throwing a special dinner party with family and friends can help your parent say goodbye to her old home and get ready to welcome the new one. Each guest could share a story of a past event in the old house as part of the celebration. Doing this can help prevent your parent from grieving about moving out of her home.
Hold On To The Familiar
Downsizing doesn’t have to mean letting everything go. It’s important for your parent to keep personal possessions so she will have familiar things around her in her new home. Things like books, photographs, ornaments which have been long-time companions should be kept, even if space is a little cramped at first. Some things may be easier to let go of later, when your parent has settled in. Familiarity is particularly important for someone who is moving into a memory care facility.
What to Take to Assisted Living
It’s a difficult decision, whichever way you look at it but the important thing is to try and retain the look and feel of your parent’s original home. Don’t worry about buying new items, recreate the same homely feel in the new living space with the furniture she already has. Keep it simple and don’t overcrowd the space. Here’s a list of essentials to take along to the new home:
- Bed, bedding, nightstand and lamp.
- Sofa and chairs.
- Shower curtain and rings, set of towels.
- Laundry basket.
- Clothes hangers.
- Garbage cans.
- Personal items like books, photos and ornaments.
- TV/radio, CD player.
Some assisted living facilities may have built-in shelves, or a small desk or writing table. Others may have a kitchenette so snacks and drinks can be made in the room.
Thomas Faulkner writes about eldercare in his articles. He uses his personal experience of caring for his mom and dad to write articles that others will find useful.