Women's Health

How to help a parent move into a retirement home

It can be difficult for someone to accept that they can no longer live independently. If the time has come for your parents to move into assisted living facilities, then you can help them to prepare for the move, both emotionally and practically. 

Set expectations

To avoid frustration, give you and your parents plenty of time to make the move. They may not be willing to do much at once, especially if they’re reluctant to give up their home. If you think things are likely to move slowly, then be realistic about that. Don’t try to pack up their entire house over a weekend. Take things slower and take the time to share memories about their home. 

Identify their most important possessions

Before you start packing up, find out which of your parents’ possessions they treasure most. Bringing over the things that matter most to them can help to make the transition to living in a retirement community much easier and less upsetting. If there are important family pieces, like antique furniture, that won’t fit into their new home, come up with a compromise together. Perhaps they would be happy for someone else in the family to keep it, so someone else can enjoy it and keep it safe for them. 

How much stuff do they own?

In general, when it comes to aging loved ones moving into a retirement home, you need to think about how much stuff they have. They will be downsizing, sometimes significantly to the point it’s a dorm-like space. In cases like this, ask them what they want to keep, what they want to bring with them, and what could be donated or put into storage units. This is often something that people tend to completely forget about when taking care of the big move. 

Get involved in the community

Downsizing a home can take a while. If there are delays in the process, your parents may begin to have doubts about the move. To stop this, help them to feel better about it by getting involved in the community at the assisted living facility. Arrange for your parents to start attending events there or join in some of the arranged acitivies. The staff should be able to arrange this for you, so you can help your parents to begin meeting the staff, making new friends and begin to feel comfortable in the facility. When moving day rolls around, they’re bound to feel much better about it, and it won’t take them as long to settle in after they have moved in. 

Arrange Visitors

Moving into a retirement community can be worrying, and some older people may worry about becoming disconnected from the family. Reassure them by making sure that they get plenty of visitors. Some experts suggest lots of visits during the first weeks, whereas others suggest not visiting for the first two weeks to let them settle in. You know your parents best, so decide which strategy will help them best. 

When you feel it is time for visitors, go yourself and encourage the rest of the family and friends to visit too. If you can’t visit in person as often as you’d like, find other ways to help them feel like they’re involved in the family news. Arrange a regular phone call, and teach them how to receive photos via their phone or email. Send pictures of the grandchildren or anything else they might find interesting, so they don’t feel out of the loop. Staying involved should ease some of their worries. 

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