5 Tips for Families Transitioning to Assisted Living
Moving to a new home can often be both exciting and stressful. When it comes time to move a loved one to an assisted living community, it can be even more challenging and emotional for the whole family. The good news is, when you choose an assisted living community like the Mission at Agua Fria, you can rest easy knowing that your loved one will have 24-hour access to any assistance with activities of daily living that they might need but also enjoy the stress-free living that other available amenities provide.
Many families choose assisted living in Peoria, Tucson, Phoenix, or other Arizona cities because of the warm weather, beautiful surroundings, and lower cost of living. Climate, budget, and accessibility are all important considerations. But what else should you think about? The following are five tips to help make the transition to assisted living smoother for your loved one and the rest of the family.
1. Start Honest Discussions and Planning Early
Although it can be difficult, it’s best to initiate conversations about assisted living before your loved one needs it. The earlier you start, the more involved your loved one can be in the decision-making process, and early conversations will allow more time for them to adjust to the idea of a transition. The National Institute on Aging has several helpful resources, including care planning worksheets and tips to get you started.
Here are some great ways to start the planning process:
Assess their needs. For instance, could they benefit from assistance with activities of daily living like bathing or eating? Have they been diagnosed with dementia? Talk with your loved one and other family members, friends, caregivers, doctors, or anyone else who interacts with them regularly to get a complete and realistic understanding of their physical, mental, and emotional needs. If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, it will be important to find an assisted living community that specializes in memory care.
Be empathetic. Any transition can be stressful. Encourage your loved one to express their feelings honestly and openly. What is most important to them? Access to outdoor recreation? Beautiful surroundings? Proximity to family? Social opportunities? Listen to your loved one’s preferences and concerns. Reassure them that you are in this process together and their well-being is your top priority.
Do your research. If you start planning early, you will have more time to research your options and find the best fit for your family. Again, involve your loved one as much as possible as you consider different assisted living communities.
2. Visit Assisted Living Communities Together
It’s one thing to look at pictures on a website and another to see an assisted living community in person. Schedule in-person tours once you have narrowed down your choices based on location, budget, and your loved one’s needs and preferences. The American Association of Retired Persons (now known as AARP) recommends important questions to ask about each community when you first call and inquire and when you visit.
Some general things to assess include the cleanliness of the communal and personal living areas, safety measures (like medical emergency response systems in residences, secure entrances and exits, and fire safety), and the overall feeling of the community, the staff, and the residents. If possible, speak with various staff members and current residents to hear about their experiences.
It’s also important to ensure the community has everything your loved one might need if their needs change. Does the community have physical therapy, memory care, or other specialized services available?
Try to visit more than once and at different times. If you can visit during meal times or social activities, it will give you a more holistic sense of the community and the quality of life. In the end, though, always trust your instincts and consider any feedback your loved one gives you about different communities. Some assisted living communities, including the Mission at Agua Fria assisted living in Peoria, offer short-term or respite care opportunities. Respite care allows your loved one to live in the community for a short time and experience all the benefits, services, and amenities available, which might make them more comfortable before making a final decision.
3. Personalize Their New Home
As your loved one transitions to their new home, help them sort through and downsize their possessions. Keeping things in the family is often helpful when thinking about donating items. For instance, dishes and pots and pans might be much appreciated by a grandchild going off to college.
Keep personal items like pictures, a favorite blanket, much-loved books, and souvenirs and mementos to help personalize their new place. Having familiar and comfortable things around will help them feel at home more quickly.
4. Establish A Network of Support
Of course, you want to stay as involved as possible in your loved one’s life through visits, phone calls, letters, etc. Encourage other family members and friends to do the same, especially if they live nearby and can participate in social activities.
Creating a support network within the assisted living community is also important. Establish relationships with staff and other residents and their families whenever possible. Communicating regularly with staff means you can advocate for your loved one’s well-being and care. Knowing that they have people around them who love and support them will go a long way toward making them feel comfortable and secure.
5. Be Patient
Above all else, keep in mind that any transition takes time. An adjustment period of anywhere between three and six months is typical. It is also normal for your loved one to experience a wide range of emotions during this adjustment period. Offer emotional support, encourage them to engage in social activities, and, most importantly, listen to them. If it is helpful, arrange for them to talk to a counselor or therapist or find a support group. A transition to assisted living is all about maintaining independence and a high quality of life for your senior loved one. Finding the most supportive care is important to your family. We hope you’ll consider assisted living in Peoria, AZ, at the Mission at Agua Fria. Feel free to contact us today to ask questions or schedule a tour to see what we’re all about. We know you and your loved one will feel right at home!