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Advice For Families

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Addressing the Need

The signs that your parent may need assistance are often subtle. Some of the warning signs are:

  • Your parent’s refrigerator is empty or filled with expired food.
  • Your parent is losing weight (possibly because they are now finding shopping, driving or cooking difficult).
  • Your parent is often bruised (from falls or from bumping into furniture, walls, etc.).
  • Your parent wears the same articles of clothing for days at a time.
  • Your parent neglects personal hygiene.
  • Your parent’s home or yard is falling into disrepair.
  • Your parent forgets doctor’s appointments or medication.
  • Your parent seems isolated or depressed.
  • Your parent behaves inappropriately for the weather or social situation.

Making the Decision

The period between making the decision to move your parent into a new home and the move itself can be a stressful one. With some thoughtful planning, you can make the transition smoother for your family and your loved one.

  • Research your options to ensure you find a home that meets your parent’s unique needs. The living options available to seniors seem to expand every year, from person-centric intentional communities like Sonoma House to more traditional assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
  • Consider not just your parent’s current needs, but his/her future needs as well. An ideal living situation will balance those needs while allowing your parent to maintain as much independence as possible.
  • Popular homes in your area may have waiting lists. Allow some time to move up the lists at your top choices.
  • Stay positive and give your parent encouragement and support, even though you yourself may be experiencing anxiety and sadness at the prospect of a move.

Planning the Move

When you move your loved one into a new home, it is important to ensure he/she remains comfortable and informed throughout the entire process.

  • Ensure any legal paperwork is completed correctly and signed by the appropriate parties before the move.
  • Assist your loved one with making a list of the belongings and valuables he/she would like to take to the new home. Avoid pressure to keep, throw away or donate any particular items.
  • Arrange for a packing and moving day after you have decided upon a list. Depending on how your parent is reacting to the move, it may be a good idea if he/she is not present during the actual move-out.
  • Encourage your parent to say goodbye to the old home with a final walkthrough or even a small family toast.
  • Help your senior parent unpack and arrange items in his/her new home. Setting up a bedroom or bathroom as it was in the previous home can help create a familiar environment.
  • Work with the staff of the new home to arrange meetings with your parent’s new neighbors and caregivers.

Giving Ongoing Support

Once you help your parent move into a new home, it’s important to continue offering emotional support while giving him/her the freedom to socialize and acclimatize independently.

  • Don’t feel guilty. Remain positive and remember that this new home will benefit your parent’s emotional and physical well-being.
  • Stay in contact with your parent and the staff to encourage socializing and your parent’s involvement in the new community.
  • Don’t hand-hold. Family members who visit too often can inhibit a senior’s ability to meet new friends and make adjustments to his/her new environment.
  • Bring personal items to help make your parent’s new accommodations feel more like home.

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