Transitioning Your Loved One to an Assisted Living Community: Why, When and Where?

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Kia CrawfordBy Kia Crawford

Caregivers often feel that their job is never truly over until their loved one passes on, but sometimes they only help that person even toward the end of their life’s journey. Allowing medical professionals and assisted living experts to take over, ensures the people you care for get the oversight, medical assistance and community they need. Community is particularly important since both caregivers and their loved ones can feel isolated after a while, secluded inside the home and rarely venturing out.

For these reasons, caregivers must recognize when transitioning their loved one is the best decision for that person’s health and mental well-being. They must also take steps to ensure that the transition avoids as much stress as possible. What follows are just some of the strategies they can use:

Recognizing When a Community Could Provide Better Quality of Care

As dedicated family members or friends, caregivers often know their care receiver better than anyone else on the planet. Yet, caregivers may not have the time, energy or mental fortitude to continually provide the level of care their loved one needs. They may also lack the medical expertise and resources like equipment, potentially leading to lapses in care.

Transitioning your loved one to a smaller home or within your own home could be an option, but their care needs may only increase over time. Assisted living can be a great third option that encourages independence while providing your loved one with additional social and medical opportunities. Many communities have nursing staff in place for 24-hour interventions, for instance, something at-home care providers may not be able to do.

Making the final decision should ultimately hinge on what is best for your loved one, including your own capacity to maintain their needed level of care.

Working Through the Transition

Change can be scary, but selecting the proper community can assure you through the process that change will ultimately be for the better. Also, as Aging Care reveals, “very often, family members can feel guilt about placing loved ones into assisted living.” These feelings are natural, but should not dictate decisions “because the move was ultimately for the best,” they say.

Aging Care also emphasizes the importance of allowing your loved one to transition on their own into assisted living. Such communities offer the needed level of care in a way that still provides residents independence. Residents can interact with others and have daily access to programs and therapies that create dramatic improvements to their lives.

Moving In: How to Help Your Loved One Feel at Home

The first 30 to 90 days of a transition will be the most difficult, but appropriately arranging your loved one’s apartment will ensure that they can feel more comfortable. Dogwood Forest in Acworth, GA appointed a Downsizing Design Consultant, Bonnie Deriso, who advises residents on the best way to furnish their new rooms. 

Bonnie’s most frequent advice? A healthy mix of something old and something new. New furniture pieces like dressers and coffee tables may be required to fit efficiently into the space without creating movement hazards. Old keepsakes like photos, art, mementos and small furniture pieces can help remind them of home and the people they still remember and love.

Keeping in Touch

Family members and loved ones who have served caregivers have a critical duty to visit their former care receiver on a regular basis, especially as they transition. They will need to strike a careful balance at first: providing support while encouraging their loved one to venture outside their comfort zone.

If their loved one is not making friends or participating in activities, the family member or friend should try to find ways to persuade their loved one to take advantage of these assisted living benefits. Through their love, support, encouragement and frequent visits, they can eventually feel confident that their former care receiver has transitioned into a better, more fulfilling life.

Ms. Crawford has eight years of experience in the senior living industry including positions with both Trinity and Sunrise Senior Living. Currently, Kia serves as Corporate Communications Director for Trinity Lifestyles Management. She is also responsible for special corporate events and corporate volunteer & philanthropic initiatives.

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