Change is hard. Even change for the better takes some getting used to, and life might not seem better during the transition. If you are contemplating a move to assisted living, you know what I mean. Many of our residents in assisted living at Daystar Retirement Village say they wish they’d made the move sooner. Still, the thought of getting from point A to point B can be overwhelming.
Whether you are making the move yourself, or helping a loved one, there are several steps that can make the move easier.
1) Remember that it’s a process. For some seniors, the decision is quick and easy and there’s no looking back. Others might talk about assisted living for a year or more before they are finally ready to make the move. If health and safety aren’t an immediate concern, try to give your loved one the time he or she needs to consider the pros and cons and move forward. Talking and listening are key to helping your loved one make a decision that he or she is happy with.
2) Talk with your doctor. If you or your loved one is unsure about the move, get a third-party perspective from someone who can assess the situation now, and also look down the road regarding chronic or worsening health conditions. Now would be a good time to make sure your advance health care directives and your Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) are in order.
3) Once your loved one has decided they’re ready to move to community living, the next step is to look at all the options. There are retirement/independent living communities, assisted living communities and adult family homes. Each of these provide a different feel and level of service and come with varying costs as well.
4) While you are gathering information, get your finances in order. Make sure you know what you can afford, and whether selling your home makes sense at this time.
When the housing market collapsed in 2007, many seniors had to put their retirement plans on hold, but with the current uptick in housing prices, many of these seniors are deciding now is a good time to sell. At Daystar, we have financial planners who can give you expert advice.
5) Once you have made a decision, but before you’ve signed a contract, make sure you ask questions and read the fine print. What will happen if or when more extensive care becomes necessary? What is the limit of care that can be provided in the facility you are considering? What care is considered basic and what care is provided at an additional cost? What is the procedure for mediating disagreements between residents (or family members) and the facility?
6) Downsizing possessions. Not everyone has trouble leaving behind a house filled with a lifetime of memories—or even seven or eight years of memories—but many people do. If this is going to be difficult for you or your loved one, allow plenty of time, even three or four months, to sort through things. If you are tempted to undertake this on your own, make sure to ask first to avoid misunderstandings later. Involving other family members in the discussion is critical.
7) Be realistic about the space you are moving into. Take only what you need, plus a few items of sentimental value or significance. If your loved one is having trouble paring down to the essentials, a workable compromise might be to rent or borrow storage space for those hard-to-part-with items. After six months of not seeing or using them, it might be easier to let them go.
Moving is never easy—and the older we get, the harder it is. But, many of our residents tell us that their only regret is that they wanted so long to join our community. If you are considering a move to assisted living, give us a call and let us show you what we have to offer.