Setting Realistic Expectations for a Move to Senior Living

July 17, 2017

When preparing for a move to senior living, the first step is managing expectations. Here are some tips for helping a senior loved one with the transition.

As you probably already know, moving to senior living is a process. It begins with a conversation, followed by the search for the right community. Finally, there’s making your choice, putting affairs in order, and arranging all of the details of the move.

But the process isn’t over yet. Now comes the psychological preparation — not just for your senior loved one, but for you and your family as well.

Managing expectations can be your family’s highest hurdle to jump yet.

Imagining the Transition Ahead

If you remember back to your first day of school or the day you moved out of your parents’ home, you might be able to recall the blend of emotions you felt. On the one hand, the tingle of excitement and the prospect of new horizons filled your head with hope and joy. On the other hand, fear of the unknown and sadness of leaving something behind made the transition bittersweet.

It’s the same with a move to senior living. One of the most important steps you can take at this point in the process is to work on managing expectations — for your senior loved one, yourself, and your family.

Here are a few guidelines to help you navigate the psychological waters ahead. They should help smooth the transition and set the stage for a positive experience in your senior loved one’s new community.

Guideline #1: Get the Whole Gang Involved

For seniors about to move to a new community, one underlying fear is that their social connections will be severed forever. That’s closely related to the fear they’re being abandoned. While you know that to be untrue, the best way to quell those fears is to get everyone involved in the transition process.

Setting up a new space that feels like home is often a personal process. However, having loved ones there for support makes a big difference. From planning the move to helping sort through possessions to physically helping pack things up, it’s better when a supportive network of family members is there to help.

Once the move has occurred, help your loved one integrate by taking the time to make the new space feel like home. Unpack, remove boxes, and place familiar objects throughout the room. Then, try to join your loved one for a few meals at the community so they feel less alone.

Guideline #2: Expect Highs and Lows

Just like when you were young and there was a big event on your horizon, there will be some emotional hills and valleys. Don’t try to flatten out the emotional highs and lows — they’re natural. Just try and surf the wave by talking things out and, more importantly, doing a lot of listening.

Guideline #3: Practice Patience

A key strategy for embracing this transition is to practice patience. There will be times, at first, when your senior loved one will feel the whole idea was a mistake. Some things may not go as planned. Or your loved one may not make friends as quickly as they hoped. That will change with time, so keep in mind that patience will see you through the difficult patches.

Life at a Legacy Senior Living Community

At Legacy Senior Living, we help each new resident prepare for this transition and support them through the good times and bad. But don’t just take our word for it. Call today to schedule a time to visit so you can see for yourself how we go the extra mile in creating an environment that helps each resident live their best life!