Transitioning to assisted living can be a huge change for your loved one. Finding ways to support them makes you feel more involved and can make the move easier. You can start supporting your loved one before they move and continue until they feel settled in their new community, which could take weeks or months.
It can be helpful to have a positive attitude about the move, but your loved one still likely has fears and concerns. Giving up the home they've lived in and admitting they need help with daily activities can be difficult. Let your loved one talk about their feelings openly without trying to convince them they're wrong.
Validate their feelings so they don't feel like you're pushing them aside. Then, help them work through those concerns. For instance, if they're worried about giving up their belongings, you can remind them that they can bring many of their items with them, and you can get them a storage unit for other things they're not ready to give up. If they're worried about getting around or meeting new people, plan visits to their assisted living community so they can become familiar with it.
Starting the move prep early gives your loved one time to process and pack things slowly and carefully. While they can bring many of their belongings with them, they'll likely need to cut them down significantly before they move. Help them decide which furniture will work well in their new apartment. If they've lived in their home for years, they'll likely have lots of clutter and possessions to sort through. Help them decide which items are important and which aren't as meaningful.
If you're local or can make the trip for the move, help your loved one get settled and unpacked in their new space quickly. Getting their belongings out of boxes and making the space functional lets them get used to the new living arrangements faster. If they're having a difficult time with the move, they might avoid unpacking or have difficulty deciding where to put things. You can help direct the process to make it easier for them.
A new home shouldn't mean all new things for your loved one. The transition is often easier when they have familiar things surrounding them. If possible, keep some of their furniture for the assisted living space. Display the decor they had in their home, and use the same bedding that's familiar and comfortable to them. This can make the apartment feel more like home.
Even if you choose an assisted living space carefully, your loved one still might need an advocate from time to time. Perhaps they're not getting all the support they need, or they have interests that don't have a good outlet within the community. Working with the staff can help your loved one get the things they need, which can help them feel more positive about living there.
If you live close enough, visiting regularly can help comfort your loved one after the move. Some people choose to wait a few weeks before visiting to let their loved ones get comfortable with the community. Consider your loved one's needs and how they might react. If seeing you right away will make them want to go back home, you might hold off on visits until they're more settled. However, they might feel comforted by seeing you right after the move.
You can continue to make your loved one feel cared for by giving them little gifts, treats and handwritten notes. If you're close, drop by occasionally with freshly baked cookies or a bouquet of flowers to brighten their apartment. If you can't stop by in person, send little care packages regularly to let them know you're thinking of them even when you're not there.
A good way for your loved one to feel more settled and fight off boredom is to get involved with the assisted living community right away. You can encourage them to get involved by visiting before the move to explore the community and discover the amenities and activity options. Once they move, ask them to show you around when you visit and nudge them toward trying some of the available amenities. You can also ask them about what they've done when you call or visit to inspire them to try new things.
Seeing a loved one move to assisted living can be emotional for you as well, especially if your loved one is having a hard time with the transition. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family members, and don't be afraid to open up to them about your feelings. It can be helpful to find other people who've been through a similar situation. Talking to a therapist can also help you work through your emotions, especially if you feel guilty about the move or you're having a hard time dealing with the situation. A therapist can help you see things from a different perspective and learn coping skills.