5 Ways to Help Your Loved One Transition to Senior Living

Transition to Senior Living

Even when our lives change for the better, transition from one lifestyle to the next can be difficult. For those who could benefit from the support of assisted senior care or memory care, moving from their beloved home to a senior living community could be the hardest change they ever make. Although the move will positively impact their health and well-being, it could have a negative effect on their attitude, causing feelings of vulnerability and loss.

Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take as a loved one’s family to make the transition to senior living as smooth as possible. According to Polly West, Executive Director at Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods in Nicholasville, KY, family members are a senior’s most trusted resource. “If your loved one is wary about their upcoming move to a senior living community, the best, single thing you can do to help them is being there,” shares West. “Whether you take their hand and lead them through the logistics, or simply listen as they voice their concerns, staying by your loved one’s side will give them confidence in your support throughout their transition.”

Taking the Leap: How to Help Them Make the Move

When your loved one moves to a senior living community, their transition is not just a physical one, but an emotional one as well. Recognizing how your loved one is feeling during this time will give you clues about the best ways to support them. They may need you to act with empathy, patience, encouragement or a combination of these to help them manage their transition from one home to the next.

You can also show your loved one that you care by helping them throughout their physical move. According to the article “8 Ways to Help Mom Transition to Assisted Living” by Marguerite Manteau-Rao, CEO of Presence Care Project, sometimes the simplest actions can mean the most to our loved ones as they adjust to a new lifestyle. As your loved one transitions into their new home, you can do the following to make it easier: 

1. Make It Feel Like Home – Try to make your loved one’s new senior living suite as comfortable and homelike as possible, before they move in. Many communities encourage new residents to bring pieces of their own furniture and simple decorations. Embellish their room with familiar objects, such as a favorite painting, curtains and comforter from their prior home.

Keep the room well stocked with your loved one’s favorite books, music, movies and snacks. If your loved one enjoys a particular magazine or newspaper, help out by changing their subscription address so they don’t miss an issue. Making it easy for them to continue their comfortable habits and routines will make their transition easier to manage.

2. Help Them with the Physical Move – Be present for your loved one at each step of the moving process. Offer to help them downsize and pack belongings to take with them, as well as discard unwanted items at donation centers. Be there the day of the move to help them get situated in their new environment and address any questions or concerns they may have about their suite (how to adjust the temperature, for example).

Stay with your loved one throughout the day. Help them unpack, learn the locations of various rooms in the community and share a meal with them. This way, they can transition into their new home in the company of those they know and love.

3. Make Friends with the Staff – Inform the staff and caregivers that will be working with your loved one of their likes, dislikes, routines, interests, etc. Your loved one may be hesitant to open up about such things, depending on their attitude about the situation, so your effort could help them make a personal connection sooner. We all have a desire to be known, and your loved one is likely to feel more at ease when those caring for them know who they are on a personal level.

At Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods, the staff members are excited to learn as much as they can about new residents. They discover their life stories, hobbies and personalities and use that knowledge to provide individualized care. Activities are created based on residents’ interests. Rather than being cared for by distanced professionals, residents are assisted by compassionate friends.

4. Encourage Them to Get Involved – Talk to your loved one’s community director to learn what kinds of activities are available. If your loved one enjoyed cooking, encourage them to get involved in the next community cooking demo. If they are an avid reader, purchase the next few books to be discussed in the community’s book club. Offer to attend some activities with them, if it would make them feel more comfortable.

Be careful not to pressure your loved one into doing things they don’t want to. Instead, encourage them with the possibilities for starting a new chapter.

5. Keep in Touch – While you should give your loved one the independence to adjust to their community on their own, it’s also important to stay connected to show you haven’t abandoned them. Visit frequently, call to check in and send little gifts to let them know you’re thinking about them. 

When you can’t be around, keep in touch with the staff as well to stay up-to-date on your loved one’s health and to ensure they are transitioning well to their new home.

Providing Care for Fulfilled Living

At Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods, we understand the emotional struggles that can accompany a transition to a senior living community. “Our staff has great insight when it comes to understanding our residents,” says West. “That’s because we get to know each resident on a personal level. We don’t just care for them. We also care about them.” 

While it doesn’t take new residents long to fit right into Bridgepointe’s senior living lifestyle, we do recognize that each senior has their own story and unique concerns. If you would like to talk to someone experienced in helping seniors manage their transition to a new community, don’t hesitate to contact Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods for friendly advice and guidance.