Planning Ahead: Preparing for a Move to Assisted Living

Making the decision to move into an assisted living community may not always be easy—but once individuals and their families see how quality of life can significantly improve, it is rarely regretted.

Planning ahead is key. There are several tips to help families navigate the transition and create an optimistic experience for their loved ones.

Consider the following 10 suggestions to make the move to assisted living as smooth as possible and to help your loved one begin feeling right at home.

  1. Make the Decision Together: Make sure your loved one is actively involved— not only in making the decision to move but [JD1] which community would be the best fit. This will be home, and it’s essential to respect the individual’s voice. 
  2. Keep Organized: Dedicate a notebook or folder to keep all important dates, telephone numbers, a copy of the floor plan, downsizing notes and important documents. In the chaos of moving, it is much easier to know everything needed is in one place.
  3. Downsize Gradually: Planning a move to assisted living often means downsizing from a home filled with memories and accumulations. Begin early to help ease feelings of overwhelm. Allow enough time to sort through personal belongings and decide what to keep, donate, sell or give away. 
  4. Personalize the New Space: Decide together which personal items will help your loved one make the emotional adjustment to the new home, such as photos, a cozy comforter or treasured art. 
    Request a copy of the floor plan with dimensions to know which furniture will fit. Remember to keep clear walking paths throughout the apartment. If purchasing new pieces, consider those that are multi-use, such as a coffee table that’s also storage.
  5. Familiarize Your Loved One with the Community’s Schedule: Obtain the community’s schedule of events for a typical week when planning a move to an assisted living community. Talking about the daily routines and activities can help loved ones look forward to and plan the days when they get to their new home.
  6. Visit the Community Several Times: Visits before the move can establish a support network and encourage your loved one to start forming relationships with future neighbors and staff. Seeing familiar and friendly faces on move-in day can ease anxiety and foster a sense of belonging.
  7. Discuss Expectations and Concerns: Have open discussions about expectations and any concerns regarding the move. Addressing these topics head-on can help mitigate fears and clear up any misunderstandings about living in an assisted living community.
  8. Match Existing Needs with Assisted Living Benefits: Talking with loved ones about how the community can provide solutions to their needs can be very helpful when planning a move to assisted living. For example, if cooking has become a problem, discuss the healthy meals provided. If remaining active is a challenge, talk about the fitness classes.
  9. Encourage Participation in the Community: Encourage and even accompany loved ones for their first meal so they can begin to feel comfortable. Adjusting to a new environment takes time, but participating in activities can bridge the gap and help them begin feeling like members of the community. 
  10. Celebrate the Move: Plan a small going-away party with close friends and family and treat the move as a positive new chapter in life. Or arrange a welcome event or gathering once they are settled in their new home to create a sense of excitement and positivity about the new living arrangement.

Additional Tips for Planning a Successful Move to Assisted Living

If you find your loved one has become more hesitant as the move approaches, consider these additional ideas:

  • Ensure They’ll Have a Means of Communication: Reassure loved ones that a smartphone, tablet, or computer will be available to communicate easily with family and friends. Set them up and, if needed, teach them how to use communication apps like Skype, Zoom or FaceTime.
  • Visit Often in the Beginning:You know your loved one best, so if frequent visits in the beginning would be beneficial, arrange for yourself or other family members and friends to visit often. You’ll still want to encourage them to interact with their new community, but this also helps reinforce that they are still a vital part of the family.
  • Create a Memory Book or Box: Share this project with your loved ones before the move so they can take it with them. Create a book or box of memories, including photos, letters and mementos they can revisit when feeling lonely or nostalgic. 
  • Arrange for a Trial Stay: If your loved ones are struggling with the move or are anxious about what life will be like, arrange for one or two trial stays. This can help them become familiar with the environment, join in activities and taste firsthand the delicious meals. This also provides a chance to meet a few of the residents before the move. 

At Presbyterian Village North, we support both the individual and the family as they navigate the dementia journey.

We focus on the quality of life for our residents with a staff specially trained in the best practices of dementia care. Residents make their homes in private apartments while benefiting from the daily interactions with others and participating in our exercise, music, art and cognitive therapies.

We also provide the following services:

  • Chef-prepared cuisine—3 meals per day with varied, all-day dining options
  • Security system in all buildings ensures protection and safety
  • Secure entry/exit/windows in our Memory Support neighborhood
  • Secure Outdoor Patio in our Memory Support neighborhood
  • Safety checks every two hours as needed
  • Emergency call system with pendant
  • Escort assistance as needed to and from dining and activities
  • Convenient access to mobile healthcare services onsite including dental, podiatry, optometry, audiology, mobile x-ray and lab, and dietician
  • Full onsite pharmacy
  • 24/7 onsite licensed nurse

Presbyterian Village North is a compassionate resource for your loved one and your family. Please call 214-355-9015 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personal visit to our community.