By Jennifer Gibbons, LCSW, Adult & Senior Care Advisor
We are naturally creatures of habit, and moving to a new place can be stressful. When faced with moving an elderly loved one, it can be daunting. My grandmother moved three times in her later years, and each residence had similarities. But there were often more differences. Here are a few of my own takeaways that can ease the transition and help your loved one settle into a new environment.
Preparation before the Move
Make a floor plan of the new residence and consult with staff to determine what furniture and personal effects are welcome. Meaningful items from home, such as a quilt and photos, are extremely important for an elder’s identity and comfort in a new environment. Your mom may even want her favorite reclining chair to move with her. Remember to arrange for valuables to find their own new home as they should not go to the residence.
Ask the head nurse at the residence if you will be expected to provide prescription medication or if it will be ordered on-site. Many residences insist on ordering medication themselves, so obtaining a three-month supply prior to admission can be problematic. Learn how care will be coordinated for your father so you can be involved.
Make sure that you introduce your father to staff as a person, not a diagnosis. Highlight the activities he enjoys, how he communicates best, favorite foods, and holidays. This will allow staff members to connect with your father on a personal level and explore shared interests.
Schedule visits from family and friends during the first two months of residency. Give your father a calendar showing when everyone will visit. Try to schedule visits during an activity that he might enjoy, and accompany him there. Understand that it takes time to adjust to a new environment and make new friends. Take time to listen to your father’s concerns and advocate for any changes to better meet his needs.
Ask for a monthly activities calendar from the community so you can encourage your mom to participate. Also ensure that your mom still attends her favorite local events and any worship services outside the community when possible. Check in to be sure that your father continues with hobbies and interests. Whether it’s playing the piano, games, or gardening, stay involved so you know your dad has the opportunity to engage in what he loves.
You may have been the primary caregiver for years, but now it’s time to welcome the residential team to join you as partners in care. Who should be your go-to staff member when you have questions? Listen to any concerns from staff and address them collaboratively. Ask for the best time to call and inquire about your mother to avoid reaching out during the staff’s shift change times. Find out when the doctors and physical therapists are on-site so that you may speak directly with them. I’ve found the more involved you are the better care your loved one receives.
Ease the transition into a new environment by contacting Care.com for personalized guidance
and assistance in locating the best community options for your loved ones.
Care.com’s Adult and Senior Care Advisers are experienced, masters-level social workers.
Call us today at (855) 781-1303 and we’ll be happy to help with your senior care challenges.