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10 Ways To Help A Loved One Move Into Assisted Living

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10 Ways to Help a Loved One Move to Assisted Living

Harriet HodgsonSummary: Written from experience, Harriet offers her 10 suggestions to help a loved-one with their move or transition into assisted living.
Author: Harriet Hodgson exclusively for Assisted Living Directory

Harriet is a regular contributor for Assisted Living Directory

I was in the grocery store checkout line when I heard a man say, “Where’s the ice cream with all the fat?” I recognized the voice immediately. It belonged to my father-in-law, a retired physician and widower for many years. His question made me smile and it also made me worry. Helping a senior loved-one to move into an assisted living facility

Dad had suffered a mini stroke and family members knew he wasn’t taking good care of himself. In fact, he seemed to be living on frozen pizza and ice cream. Though Dad knew the benefits of a balanced diet, he wasn’t cooking for himself or getting enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

It took months for family members to persuade Dad to move to Assisted Living. For decades, he had lived in a beautiful condominium and, as you might expect, had accumulated too much. “What am I going to do with all this stuff?” he kept asking. Family members promised to help and we did.

These are the tips we followed:

Emphasize the pluses. Talk about the benefits: food service, house cleaning service, social activities, hobby groups, safety, and more.

Get a floor plan. This makes it easier to sort items and choose the ones that will work best in your loved one’s new place.

Help with sorting. Moving is a stressful experience and having to part with possessions make it more so. We sorted items into two groups, KEEP and GIVE. Then we had an appraiser come in to reject or confirm our sorting.

Dispose of items. Contact relatives and suggest items they might like to have. Keep track of who is coming to pick up items and when. Take unwanted things to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or church rummage sales.

Buy something new. Help your loved one buy something new for the apartment, a comfy chair or picture frame. One purchase can make his or her new place special. Respect your loved one’s wishes if he or she doesn’t want anything new.

Assist with set-up. Help arrange the furniture as planned, but be flexible. What looked good on paper may not work in reality.

Stock the kitchen. Much of the food will probably come from your loved one’s former home. Buy additional groceries if necessary.

Label kitchen cabinets. It’s hard to find things when you move into a new place. My sister-in-law put sticky notes – glasses, plates, cups, silverware, pots/pans, etc. – on the cabinet doors. Dad never took the notes down.

Make it homey. Add some potted plants and, of course, lots of family photos. Dad eventually transferred to Nursing Care. Before he moved into his new “studio” apartment, I put a bouquet of flowers on the table in front of the window.

Stay connected. My father-in-law thought he would lose contact with family members and, thankfully, this didn’t happen. Family members visited often, ate dinner with him, included him in all activities, and planned special activities for him. Though he was reluctant to move at first, Dad loved Assisted Living. “It’s wonderful,” he kept saying. “Just wonderful!”

Copyright © Harriet Hodgson

- Article by Harriet Hodgson exclusively for Assisted Living Directory

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Responses to this article:

Braden Wrote:
I want to make the transition into assisted living as easy as possible for my loved ones. I'll make sure that I help them get settled in. It makes sense that stocking the kitchen could help with that!
28 November 2016 at 11:21 am

Siaosi Wrote:
I am happy to learn some tips that will help me keep my grandmother happy and comfortable. I think it is smart to stay connected and assist with the set up of the home. I think it would be smart to be able to keep her happy so she stays at the living center willingly.
1 November 2016 at 12:51 pm

Failynn Wrote:
Tomorrow, I will be helping my grandma to move into her new assisted living facility and I'm afraid that she won't be able to find everything once it is put away. However, I really like your idea about using labels and solving that issue that way. I think that I will use labels that are more secure that sticky notes, though, and put them on his dresser too
30 October 2016 at 1:52 pm

Lillian Wrote:
These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to emphasize the pluses of moving to an assisted living facility. My mother has been living alone for some time now, but her health is declining, so we're going to move her to a facility where she can receive the care she needs. She's uncertain about this change in her life, so we'll definitely emphasize all of the good things to keep it positive for her. Thanks for the great post! Lillian
12 August 2016 at 2:51 am

Emily Wrote:
I like what you said about getting a floor plan so you know what you should bring for your loved one. My grandmother has a lot of stuff and she doesn't want to leave a lot of it behind. So, having a floor plan for a assisted living home will help her see what she can keep.
8 June 2016 at 7:50 am

James Wrote:
I second making sure you highlight the pluses of assisted living when talking to your loved ones about it. I know that my grandparents really didn't want to have to go. We had to walk them through the entire process, and even then it wasn't until they could no longer take the stairs into their house that they considered assisted living. They like it fine now, and we try to visit them every week, but it was really hard to get them to notice that they needed some extra help.
6 June 2016 at 1:51 pm

Carla Wrote:
It is exhausting, more emotionally than physically trying to move a parent from home, especially if they've lived in the same place for over 50 years. Heart-wrenching.
22 May 2014 at 5:54 am

Maurice Wrote:
Coming back soon after the move to check in and to offer support is as important as the move itself!
1 July 2013 at 10:51 am

Nadia Wrote:
It's sad to me that there are some seniors out there who have no family to 'help' them move into assisted living. I'd love to know if there is some sort of volunteer organization that could help with something like this.
1 February 2013 at 10:55 pm

Eve Wrote:
Making sure that mom or dad has snacks that he or she likes in their new place is important too.
17 September 2012 at 11:55 pm

Assisted Living Directory Wrote:
What an awesome idea. I am sure a good smartphone would also suffice to look at photos and such. Thank you for your great idea Murray!
28 August 2012 at 11:04 am

Murray Wrote:
One thing we did for my mom is bought her a tablet. They are so easy to use, and a great way for us to send her pictures of the grandkids, and to keep up via email. They aren't heavy, so they are easier for seniors to work with than a laptop.
28 August 2012 at 11:02 am

Beverly Wrote:
I have read, reread and taught from Harriet's books, especially those about Alzheimer care. Her writing makes things very clear. Some of them Finding the Words, for example, is an oldie but goodie.

3 July 2012 at 10:15 am

Beatrix Wrote:
It's really difficult to make a loved one move to a facility. But with the tips posted here, I'm pretty sure families experiencing this right now will find this post very beneficial. It took me a year and a half to convince my mom. I did not use force but instead explained it to her in a way that she will not feel unwanted. I made sure that she feels that I love here and I'm doing this for her own good. After that, I visit her often and now our relationship is much stronger.

9 July 2012 at 8:11 am

Mora Wrote:
The more family can step in to help, the better the transition will be. Just being present for your family member is hugely reinforcing to them! Thank you for the great tips!
3 May 2012 at 11:14 am

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