With an expected elderly population of over 55 million by the year 2020, making decisions about a parent’s elderly care is a harsh reality that many adult children will have to face in the coming years. Moving elderly parents into an assisted living center isn’t always the easiest choice, but the reality is that it is best for their overall health, safety and happiness. Unfortunately, with such an important decision comes significant responsibilities; these responsibilities can send a family into a stressful panic. Keep your family relaxed and intact by using the following five tips to alleviate family stress while moving elderly parents.
1. Become familiar with the amenities and activities offered.
When an moving elderly parents into an assisted living facility, it’s natural to worry about their happiness and what they will be doing in their free time. Assisted living communities often provide a wide range of recreational activities and amenities in order to ensure that residents are enjoying a fulfilling, comfortable and high quality of life.
Of course, the available amenities are unique to each location. They may include, but are not limited to, yoga classes, fitness centers, art classes and movie nights. Social activities such as games, picnics and dances are often scheduled in order to promote resident interaction and forming friendships with other residents. Familiarize yourself with all of the activities, amenities and internal social gatherings the facility has to offer. This will ease the worries of concerned family members that may perceive the move as an ‘easy way out’ or fear that the elder parent will be afforded a poor quality of life.
2. Allow plenty of time for the news to sink in.
Hearing the news that an elderly parent or grandparent will be transferred into an assisted living facility can be unsettling news to some. It can be an emotional roller coaster containing feelings of relief, anger, fear, worry, guilt and even happiness. Every member of the family will handle the announcement differently. For this reason, it is important to announce the change in living arrangements well in advanced to provide family members with adequate time to cope with the news and resolve their feelings before moving elderly parents into their new home.
3. Tour the facility as a family.
Inviting everyone to tour the facility will allow them to experience first-hand what the living conditions and quality of life is like for the current residents. When family members observe a safe, clean facility with 24-hour security, all the comforts of home and happy residents that are treated well, letting go of any stressful worries becomes a much simpler task. It may even cause a sense of excitement, as it will likely be a dramatic improvement in quality of life for their loved one.
4. Downsize belongings.
Moving elderly parents into much smaller living quarters requires downsizing of belongings. The act of purging possessions with valuable memories can be a point of contention between the elderly parent and families, however. Often, the parent has a difficult time saying goodbye to a majority of the items, but the burden of reminding the parent that not all items can be taken falls on the family members.
Before moving elderly parents into an assisted living facility make it a priority to purge items from each room in the home until only the necessities and a few personal treasures are set aside to take to his or her new home. Selling items with potential value to cover any out-of-pocket costs for the move can also be a motivator. In times when a parent refuses to let go of most possessions, paying a monthly fee for a small storage unit may be the least stressful option.
5. Visit often.
Once your parents are moved into their new home, visit often. Stop over for an hour or so after work for the first few weeks and bring the kids along to see grandma on the weekends. Elderly parents may feel much like freshmen in college moving into a new dorm in a school full of strangers. Your company will make them feel at ease and reduce any fears that they will be thrown to the wayside. Try to act and feel comfortable in the new space. It is their new home, after all, and what they want more than anything is for family to feel comfortable and welcomed in their space.
Making the decision to move elderly parents into an assisted living center is one of the most trying decisions you will ever have to make. Families can undergo stressful conflict due to experiencing mixed feelings about the move. It won’t be an easy process, but doing what is best for your parents and providing them with a quality of life that simply isn’t possible in their current home is worth any short-term troubles and stresses that may arise.