If you’re among the millions of people helping their aging parents to make the move from their home to assisted living, you should be aware of the fact that they need a lot of extra “TLC” during this time. While you may be overjoyed at the idea of them getting the kind of “red carpet” treatment you always thought that they deserved, they’re more than likely entering a period of mourning over the loss of their home, independence, and even their privacy.
Loss of Home
According to Joanna Saisan, MSW, Melinda Smith, M.A., Doug Russell, M.S.W., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. in their article “Assisted Living Facilities: Tips for Choosing a Facility and Making the Transition” your parents might be dealing with some serious emotional turmoil. “Stress is just the tip of the emotional iceberg. You may associate grief with the death of a loved one, but grief is a natural response to any loss. And the loss of your home, neighborhood, and community is a big one.”
This means that they might really be looking forward to all of the wonderful things you are, but they may also feel remarkably vulnerable because they’re suddenly without the anchor of their long-time home. This is something that has given them pride, independence, and an identity for their entire adult lives. So, consider how to help them smoothly transition away from that home and into what is going to be the final home in which they live.
Counseling and Therapy
One thing that many people overlook is the option for counseling and/or therapy. A good assisted living facility will usually have staff that is suitably trained to provide this sort of thing, but if they don’t their social worker is going to be able to point you in the right direction.
Take a Backseat
What else can you do? One of the major pointers given to adult children relocating their parents is to avoid trying to assume total control. For instance, don’t try to make the choices about packing. Let them decide which knick-knacks and photographs they want, allow them to choose the final date for packing and/or moving day, and don’t even actually inquire about the subject unless they have brought it up first.
Once you arrive at the facility, don’t intrude on their “settling in” process either. Help them to personalize their new home, but don’t try to take the lead or override their decisions. If Mom or Dad wants a photograph in a poorly lit area or in an area that you wouldn’t use, it is their home and not yours – simply help them hang it where they want it to go.
Acknowledge Their Feelings
Take a few moments to verbally acknowledge their feelings or give your sympathy. Don’t balk at your mother’s tears over the loss of her home. A parent has memories of their home that you, as their child, will not. For example, they’ll envision your first steps, holiday seasons, and the time spent with their spouse. Giving this up is a serious loss, and you must let them know that you understand this. Let them talk to you about it and try very hard not to “minimize” their emotions by being overly positive about the move. If you try to gloss over the tears and turmoil, your parents won’t have adequate time to begin adjusting to the enormous change.
Make Frequent Visits
Adult children will often get their parents “settled” into the assisted living facility and then fail to make regular appearances thereafter. This is a horrible thing for any parent to experience and is a reason for serious difficulty with the adjustment from life “at home” to life in the facility. If you can’t make frequent visits, then make a point to call each evening during their first few weeks. Be sure to visit within two weeks of their move, and ask them if they need you to bring anything. If you begin letting them see that you view their new home as their official home, and acting as you did when it was their original house, you’re helping them to shift gears and perspectives.
Keep Them Active
Don’t lock them into that location as if they’re in some sort of nursing home. Assisted living is radically different from nursing care and your parents need to know that they can come and go as they please and that they will still be expected to participate in all of the family events. You might want to make a point of taking them out once or twice a month, bringing them to visit other family members, and reminding them that the world outside of the facility is still theirs to enjoy.
Dealing with New Neighbors
One of the major issues of concern for lots of parents as they make the transition is the way that they must now approach problems and concerns. For instance, your father may like to listen to his TV at a very loud volume, but having sensitive new neighbors (even just sharing a wall or two with neighbors) may be a very difficult adjustment. You need to consider how you’ll help them to work through problems in this new setting.
Remember that their neighbors are just as permanent as the neighbors in their old homes. This means that they can’t “burn bridges” or create hardships because this will greatly impact their general quality of life. Workout some sort of protocols for handling their concerns about their new lifestyle, their neighbors, and even one another. While you may have never before played the role of mediator with your parents, just remember that they’re living through an enormous period of adjustment and will benefit tremendously from someone who can be neutral and keep a cool head about even the most troublesome issues.
So, when your folks make the move to an assisted living facility, you should:
- Accept their emotional response – even if you don’t agree with it
- Recognize that they are feeling as if they have lost their home
- Consider arranging for some counseling to help them cope
- Refrain from trying to take control of the actual moving process
- Help them to settle in, but don’t control that process either
- Acknowledge their feelings and give them sympathy
- Visit and call them often, and also take them out frequently
- Design new ways to work through any concerns, conflicts, or problems
If you follow these suggestions, you’ll find that your parents quickly fall in love with their new surroundings and make the transition with as little turmoil as possible.
What benefits nursing homes have for elderly people?
Although living in a residential care facility may never be good for certain elderly people, nursing home residents have a to several things that can make the experience more tolerable. They include:
• Retain their privacy and individual freedoms
• Stay with their spouse or partner
• Live in a facility without foul odors
• Live with dignity
• Receive the care and treatment they need
• Live with a sense of security
Simply having the freedom to pick out their own clothing and determine how they spend their days can hold significant meaning for elderly people. Unfortunately, they do not retain these options in some nursing homes.
What factors will influence seniors’ live at nursing homes?
1. Staff-to-Resident Ratio
The higher the ratio of staff to residents, the better the experience will be for those who live there. A lower ratio can lead to stressed or overwhelmed staff, which increases the risk of caregiver burnout. Stress and burnout are two risk factors for abuse and neglect.
2. Staff Training and Competency
The higher the facility’s standards for staff training and competency, the better the residents’ chances of receiving an acceptable level of care. That is because untrained staff may make mistakes that cause injuries and erode residents’ sense of safety and well-being.
3. Staff Turnover Rates
If the facility staff turns over quickly, residents may face an increased risk of nursing home injuries and abuse. New employees may also lack the training necessary to deliver safe, respectful care.
4. Quality of Life Focus
Facilities with a quality of life focus respect the resident’s wishes whenever possible, rather than approaching their care based on staff convenience.
Other factors that are important to older adults include:
• Having their own room
• Meal programs that serve tasty, nutritious food
• Opportunities to socialize at their discretion
• Access to activities and services on-site
What risks might nursing homes have for seniors?
Every person, young or old, deserves to live in a location that affords safety, dignity and respect. Older adults want to retain as much independence and autonomy as possible and make choices about medical treatment and care whenever possible.
If an elderly person goes to live in a residential care facility that fails to provide these basic needs and rights, it will negatively affect their well-being.
When caregivers, medical practitioners, and other staff neglect or abuse elderly residents, those in their care can sustain significant harm. Types of abuse that can harm an elderly person include:
Neglect (can include basic needs neglect and medical neglect)
Each U.S. state dictates the laws and policies that affect residential care facilities. The more comprehensive a state’s oversight, the less likely elderly residents are to sustain harm. Check your state’s policies for residential care to determine the potential risk in your area.
What are the preparation to move to assisted living centers?
- 1. Know the counseling service and therapy in advance
- 2. Let your parents decide the moving date
- 3. Acknowledge their feelings
- 4. Make frequent Visits
- 5. Keep aged parents active
- 6. Get along well with new neighbors
What are the preparations to move senior parents to assisted living centers?
- 1. Early Planning
Early planning can also help to ease the emotions you may experience regarding the lifestyle and financial consequences that can result from the decision to relocate your parents to a nursing home or assisted living community. Broaching the subject with your parents while they’re still able to assist in the decision-making process, you can broaden the available options, answer important questions and clarify some of the ambiguity that’s often associated with this phase of life.
- 2. Educate Yourself
Taking the time to be sure that you, as well as your parents, are educated and able to carefully assess available options can help to relieve the guilt you may feel. Obtain as much information as possible on the facilities available to your parents. Rather than being taken in by the look of the facility, instead, focus on the lifestyle and care that is offered. The moment you step inside a facility you should be able to gain an immediate sense of the atmosphere it provides. The most important element to focus on is whether your parents will feel at home.
- 3. Understand The Best Care They Need
The decision to move your parents is certainly never easy. Such a decision naturally challenges the established parent-child relationship. This role reversal can be uncomfortable. It can be a huge decision to relocate your parents to a nursing home or assisted living facility. If you’re honest with yourself and you’ve done everything possible to locate the best facility for your parents based on their needs and desires, realistically look at the situation and understand that you’re providing the best care possible for your parents.
How to tour a assisted living facility with aged parents?
When you tour a facility you’ll have to take everything with the proverbial “grain of salt”. This means that you are going to nod and/or smile, but you’ll also make a mental note to double-check everything that sounds too good to be true.
For example, if the program coordinator says that she takes the residents to the local shopping mall once each week, accept that statement, but then go and ask at least three residents if they take the weekly trip to the mall. If they look perplexed or negate the statement provided by the coordinator, you can either accept that you were misled or go even further by asking the staff at the local mall if there is indeed a weekly visit from the site.
So, you know to use a very critical “ear” during your tour, but also be sure to develop your most critical “eye” as well. For instance, you may not be the world’s best housekeeper and may find it hard to distinguish a freshly washed floor from a not-so-freshly-washed one, but pay attention to such small details when touring a facility. Make a point of “accidentally” entering some of the rooms not on the tour and look at the levels of cleanliness. If the public rooms are far cleaner than these “background” rooms, you know that there’s a serious discrepancy in what is being presented versus the actuality.
What are the essential elements for a good assisted living center?
- 1. Responsible and careful staff
- 2. Healthy and nutritious food
- 3. High standarded facilities
- 4. Regularly schedules and special events
- 5. Good overall quality
- 6. Nice residents
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