October 28, 2021

Transitioning to a senior living residence can be difficult for anyone.

Still, there are many ways to ensure a smoother journey, one that is less painful, less difficult, and maybe even enjoyable.  There are several factors to consider prior to moving, such as which facility will be the best for mom or dad.

Once a facility is decided,  you can now consider making this transition smooth for all involved. That also includes the son or daughter who may be feeling guilty about the move in the first place. 

1. A Positive Attitude is Key

You’ve probably heard the saying that attitude affects the outcome. That’s especially true when it comes to a life-changing event like your loved one’s move to a new senior community. Your positive approach sets the stage for a smoother transition. Their emotions might bounce around during this time.

It’s helpful to remind them what they’ll gain and what they get to leave behind, like worrying about the upkeep on such a large house. That said, it’s important to acknowledge where they are at emotionally.  They may look at the move as “the beginning of the end.” They might be afraid that since they’ll be cared for by staff, you may not visit.

Understanding and support are needed at this time. 

2. Surround your loved one with that which has Meaning

A parent’s house may be full of mementos and memories.

While one can’t take everything, help them choose the most meaning – from photos and grandkids’ artwork to even a favorite chair.  Ask them what they want to take, and please do not assume that you know what they want.

The more you involve them, the better they will feel.  Your parent may surprise you. Whatever they decide, help them to bring those things that will make it feel like home.

3. Their new living space fits their lifestyle

Your parent’s current home is set up for what they like to do, whether that’s reading, watching t.v., knitting, quilting, or something else. There may be a particular place, seating, lighting, and storage set up just for that activity.

Talk with your loved one about where they’ll knit or watch t.v. in their new space.  Do they need special lighting, a place to store supplies, a different chair? Setting up this space right away will allow your loved ones to do what they enjoy most,  making it feel more like home.  

When possible, don’t rush the move-in. If you can, move everything in a few days early, so your parent doesn’t walk into all the boxes. That will make a smoother transition.

4. Let there be light and lots of it

Lighting has a significant impact on whether a space feels welcoming. The light in your loved one’s space might be very different due to the direction it faces, the number and size of windows, and more.

Make sure they have plenty of light during the day and the evening so that their space feels warm and inviting. Good lighting can also help prevent bumps and falls as your parent gets used to their new space. The use of nightlights is also a good idea. 

5. Start a new hobby

Encourage your loved one to pick up a hobby or engage in a new activity within their new home. Most senior communities are geared toward increasing senior participation in recreational activities such as community yoga, swimming classes, or group clubs.

Deciding upon an activity can make your loved one feel more engaged with their new living environment, creating a transition much easier when they have something fulfilling to occupy the time.  

6. Getting to know the new Hood

Staff can be a big help as you acclimate your parent to their new community. Often there will be someone assigned to your parent to invite them to activities or a meal.  Why not stay for a meal or two with your parent the first few days after they move in to ease the transition? 

It is essential to encourage your loved ones to engage with their new retirement community in order to make friends with fellow seniors. Retirement homes offer many social events for residents, including game nights, chaperoned field trips, and themed activities.

Maximizing your parents ‘ comfort in their new space is important to make a new living space seem more like home. Seniors can ensure happiness by making new friends, not spending all their free time alone in their rooms, and fostering a nurturing environment.

7. Visit often

When your loved one has transitioned to a new residence, it is vital to visit them as often as possible to provide the familiarity they are accustomed to. Moving locations can be difficult, whether switching to a different house or living in a senior home.

By visiting often, you can be sure that he or she is adjusting well. Seniors who move may be going through an emotionally taxing journey, so be sure to visit and remind them how much you appreciate and love them.

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About the author 

Ravina Chandra

After completing my Nursing degree and launching into my career, I soon discovered that ‘Preventative Health’ is what saves us from the pain and suffering that accompanies illness and premature aging.

I now assist older adults in finding balance in mind & body, and mentoring them to align with their core values, their loves, their hopes, and their dreams. I look forward to our time together.

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