How to Ease an Aging Parent’s Transition to Assisted Living

Moving a parent to an assisted living facility is an emotional process for both parent and adult child. Even if you have found the ideal facility and your parent is in favor of the move, it can be difficult. If your parent is not in favor of the move, however, the process becomes much more complicated.

An individual moving into an assisted living facility may be overcome with a variety of emotions. There is the realization that they are growing older and may be giving up some of their independence. The prospect of leaving the place where they raised their family also can be devastating. In these situations, no matter how necessary the move is for the health and well-being of a parent, an adult child often is overcome with guilt.

If you or your parent are feeling any (or all) of these ways, take heart. In most cases, these feelings are usually temporary. The key is for everyone to remember that it will take a while for everyone to settle into the “new normal.” In fact, experts say that it could take as long as six months before a senior adjusts to their new home.

As an adult child it helps to keep your focus on why your parent moved into an assisted living facility. Focus on the fact that your parent will be safer, healthier and, in the long run, most likely happier in their new home.

If you are wondering how to help your parent navigate this life change, here are some helpful tips:

  • Understand how your visits impact your parent. Some parents will want their adult child to visit them daily. This is especially true if they are feeling lonely or worry they will be forgotten by their family. However, it is important that you don’t let your parent use your visits as an excuse to avoid meeting other residents. If you think this is happening, you may want to visit less often at first. You also should plan your visits so that they do not interfere with scheduled activities or meal times. These are times when your parent will be more likely to interact with other residents.
  • Don’t be discouraged if there are setbacks. Even residents that do well at first may suddenly say they are unhappy a few weeks later. They also may say that they are lonely after reporting they have made new friends. This is normal and will improve over time.
  • Promote independence. Moving to an assisted living facility doesn’t mean your parent should stop doing the things that they have always enjoyed. If they were part of a book club in the past, arrange transportation so they can still attend. If they love to paint or knit, encourage them to continue to do those things.
  • Let your parent know that you will always be there for them. If, after a reasonable period of time, your parent still seems unable to adjust to their new home, ask staff members for help. At times like these, it is important that your aging parent knows that you love them and will be there for them no matter where they live!