Preparing Mom for Assisted Living
Making the choice to move your mom to assisted living is never easy. It can represent a considerable change in a person’s life and cause a lot of anxiety. Many people have to make this decision every year, so If your mother is getting to a place where assisted living seems to be the best option, here are some steps that will help you make that transition.
Having the Conversation
Unfortunately, this topic isn’t as easy to bring up as where to go for dinner. Mom might even suggest the move herself in some cases, but that still leaves a lot to work through. If this is not something your mother has brought up herself, it can be challenging to find a way to broach the subject.
One senior living resource recommends that you write down your concerns ahead of time and do your research so you’re prepared for the conversation. The article also encourages you to have multiple conversations–you don’t have to decide everything all at once. Consider some conversation starters like: “How is it living at home alone? Do you still feel safe?” Or, “Would you feel less stress if you didn’t have to worry about the house?”
Make sure you discuss her needs, like what she wants in an assisted living community. You’ll also need to discuss logistics, although it’s a good idea to have that discussion on a different day so you do not overwhelm your mom or yourself.
Above all, remember that this is ultimately your mother’s decision, unless she is experiencing some significant cognitive decline, in which case you may need to take the lead on decisions. Go into the conversation willing to listen about her concerns and how she’s feeling.
Finding the Right Place
Assisted living communities have a wide variety of options, so it’s essential to do your research and talk to your mother about what best suits her needs. For example, assisted living communities must be wheelchair accessible, but some locations are easier to navigate than others. If your mom uses a wheelchair or walker, it’s a good idea to tour the community so you can see how easily she can get around on wheels.
While you’re searching, make sure you’re asking Mom what’s most important for her. For example, let’s say she currently lives in Peoria, AZ. Maybe she prefers the Arizona climate, or perhaps you have family living there, and she wants to stay nearby. Make sure you’re looking for a place near Peoria, like the Mission at Agua Fria. Alternatively, maybe she likes particular games or art mediums, so you should look for a place with a game room or art classes.
Packing for a move takes work, even under the best circumstances. Moving to assisted living can add some complications, but it’s completely doable with some planning ahead.
Many older adults have lived in the same home for quite some time and may have collected several furnishings and sentimental items. If they live in a full-sized home, they may need to downsize before moving. Downsizing doesn’t have to mean taking everything to a thrift shop!
Well before the move, start considering what she wants to have with her day-to-day. There will undoubtedly be some items that are very sentimental but not practical to bring to a smaller space. For the most part, storage is the best solution. There might be family nearby with some room to store items, or you could consider renting a secure storage unit.
Some things could even be gifted to family members. Mom might not need her standing mixer if meal options are provided in her new home, but she may have a grandchild who likes to bake. In cases like that, she doesn’t have to get rid of it altogether; she knows it’s still in the family, and someone’s getting use out of it. (And maybe she’ll get some homemade cookies now and then.)
Making the actual move can be one of the more logistics-heavy parts of the process.
If possible, hiring professional movers to help is a good idea. This will help take the stress (both mental and physical) off of Mom and yourself so that you can focus on getting used to the new space. Some moving companies even offer specialized moving services for seniors.
You may find some companies that, on top of physically moving items, will also offer packing and unpacking services, planning, or help with change of address. If you’re unsure about a moving company, you can call and ask about what services they offer, if they can move heavy items, if they provide storage, and so on.
After the Move
If your mom is moving to assisted living, you may have been concerned about her health or safety, or she may have been struggling with daily chores. It’s normal to be worried about her during this time, even once the move is completed.
Remember to take a moment to breathe! Mom is in a safe place with good care, and she’ll get to meet new people and participate in all kinds of activities. You can relax a bit now that the most challenging part is over, with all the packing, moving, and logistics behind you.
You’ll still want to visit her frequently. The Mission at Agua Fria suggests visiting a few times a week rather than daily. This way, she’ll have more of an opportunity to socialize with her new neighbors and see what the community has to offer! Encourage other friends and family to visit as well–just be sure to check with her first so you’re not springing any surprise visits on her.
The Mission at Agua Fria will help ease your mom’s transition into our community. We make the change easy for both of you! Schedule a tour today and see how great it would be for your mom to live here.