Your parents have probably always been your support system. When you were a baby, they were your literal support system as you learned to walk, and then as you learned to ride a big. As a young adult, venturing into the “real world’ wasn’t scary, because you knew they would be there to help any time you needed it. Even as you graduated college, started your career, built a family and a life of your own, your parents were always the foundation your life, and your source of strength when you needed it.
But now, it’s your parents who need help. Little by little, they might have less independence than they used to. On top of physical frailty, maybe they even require memory care as they age. It can be the scariest challenge you’ve ever had helping them transition into the assisted living care facility or nursing home that’s right for them.
We understand how brave you have to be to help your mom or dad find a nursing home, so we’ve put together a list of tips for making the transition successful:
- Involve them in the process, when possible.
Your mom or dad will be more receptive about transitioning into a nursing home if they feel like they had ownership in the decision. It might be difficult if your parent is in frail health, particularly if they are dealing with memory issues, but if they feel like they’re being dumped in an unfamiliar (and maybe even a sterile, medical) environment, it will have a negative impact on their cognitive health.
If possible, take them on tours of the potential nursing homes or assisted living facilities that they might live in. Ask them their opinions of them, and try to earnestly consider what they say. It is possible that your parent will only have a negative point-of-view about any senior living facilities they look at; this transition is likely as scary (or more) for them as it is for you. However, being included in the process may help them get invested in the transition, which will make it go smoother.
- Be future-focused in your assisted living search.
Your parent might only need limited support right now, but as time goes on, they will inevitably require more support. It might have an extremely negative impact on your parent’s health if they have to get uprooted and moved to a facility that can provide more in-depth care if needed down the road.
While you are looking at senior care facilities, make sure to ask how the transition to nursing homes is made. Every assisted living facility understands that they are often a stepping stone to a nursing home, and the “good ones” have a process in place to help their residents make that transition as seamless as possible. They might work in partnership with a nearby nursing home, so the decision to move and that transition is facilitated from both ends. In the best case scenario, they might even have their own step-up unit when their residents need more care than their assisted living setup offers, so that your parent would not experience an abrupt change in environment or routine when they need more care. The point is, if you ask how the residents are transitioned to the next level of care and are answered with a blank stare, you should consider this a red flag.
- Pay attention to the attitude of the staff.
Happy employees are happy people. Likewise, if the staff of the senior care facility you are considering are overworked and underpaid, they’ll have a negative attitude about their jobs. That attitude will have a huge impact on the quality of life that the residents of the care facility have. When you tour any facilities that you are considering for a potential home for your mom or dad, pay close attention to the countenance of the staff. We aren’t talking about the guide who is paid to show off the best side of the facility. We’re talking about the people who prepare and serve in the dining halls. We’re talking about the staff who are responsible for cleaning the rooms. The staff you might not notice unless you’re intentional about it. If they seem satisfied with their work environment, it’s a good sign.