Moving to a long term care facility is often difficult for an older adult. But there are many things family members and friends can do to reduce the physical and emotional stresses involved. They can help plan the move, participate on the day of the move, and provide love and support after the move.
Moving to a nursing home is an important long term care option for many older or disabled adults. Sometimes, a person moves to a nursing facility because the care they need just isn’t available or practical at home. Or, they may have special rehabilitative care needs after leaving the hospital, but before they return home.
Whatever the circumstances, there are a few simple steps you and other family members and friends can take to help the person you care for make a smooth, hassle-free transition to new surroundings.
Before the Move
Moving to a long-term care facility usually means making do with less space than the person is used to. Long-term care residents have the right to keep and use items of personal property, to the extent space permits. But space is almost always in short supply. So choices may have to be made about what to take along…and what to leave behind. Friends and family can help by:
- Learning from the facility exactly what space limitations apply
- Helping prepare for the move, including arranging for storage or other disposition of items left behind
- Discussing the facility’s policies for safeguarding resident property; for example, you may be advised to mark all clothing and personal belongings with the person’s name, and to make (or helping the resident or facility make) a list of the resident’s things
- Anticipating and responding to special concerns, such as care for a pet.
On the Day of the Move
Moving to a new home is always stressful. You can help minimize feelings of disorientation and dislocation by:
- Helping your loved one unpack…and making sure that pictures, personal mementos and other similar items are placed where they will create a feeling of home
- Sharing a meal at the new facility
- Getting to know staff members and learning about all the various programs, services, and activities the facility has to offer
- Spending some quiet time after everything is unpacked to make sure your family member or friend is as comfortable, relaxed, and reassured as possible.
After the Move
When people move to a care facility, they often fear that the move will come between them and people and activities they love. They may worry about being alone and out of touch. It may take some time and effort to get over these concerns, to be reassured by the support of loved ones, to make new friends, and to settle into new and interesting patterns of living. You can help by:
- Staying in touch right from the beginning…communicating frequently and positively
- Working closely with your loved one and staff to make sure any difficulties are ironed out
- Establishing regular visiting times so your loved one can plan ahead for them
- Making a few surprise visits as well
- Visiting individually or as a family group for special occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries
- Attending care conferences and family support groups
- Working with your loved one and staff to make the new living situation a happy, successful one.
15 Great Ways to Help Your Loved One Feel Connected
- Send flowers or balloons on a special day.
- Write frequent cards, notes or e-mail.
- Give a prepaid, senior-friendly cell phone or calling card.
- Set up Skype chats with your loved one
- Visit as often as you can.
- Send pictures or videos of family events, grandchildren, or friends.
- Bring a card or small gift when you visit.
- Get to know the resident’s new friends and care providers, and greet them during your visits.
- Check to see what types of food items would be appropriate as a gift, and include them occasionally when you visit.
- Remember to acknowledge and thank members of staff whenever appropriate.
- Offer to take along other long-time friends, so they can visit also.
- Go for a stroll outside if weather permits.
- Take the resident on a day trip, or come along on a resident outing.
- Inform friends, family and your loved one’s faith community of their new contact information.
- Become a volunteer in your loved one’s new home.