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How to Feel at Home After a Move to Assisted Living

Downsizing and settling in to an assisted living community can feel overwhelming. As is true of any big change in life, moving is an adjustment no matter how excited you are for a new chapter. It isn’t uncommon for seniors and adult children to struggle to unpack, organize, and feel at home.

If you or a senior loved one has recently moved or is planning to, we have a few tips that may help make the transition go more smoothly.

4 Tips for Adjusting to Life at an Assisted Living Community

Get involved before you move.

Many people struggle with change. For older adults who lived in their home for decades, moving can be physically and emotionally challenging. Giving up a home that has many fond memories attached to it can be tough. You might find yourself questioning if you are making the right decision.

One suggestion is to get involved at the assisted living community before moving. Ask the life enrichment team how you can do that. With current concerns about the coronavirus, team members are getting creative about keeping residents safely engaged in activities and events. There might be opportunities for you to connect with residents through video chat platforms, such as Zoom or Skype.

Take your time downsizing and moving.

Unless you must move quickly for a health reason or if your house is sold, try to establish realistic timelines. There are so many tasks associated with downsizing and moving that it’s easy to be paralyzed by all of the details. Hosting an estate sale and finding a charity to donate unneeded household items to are time-intensive projects.

Some older adults and their families wait to list or sell the house until after the move. Then you can set up a more reasonable schedule for downsizing and selling the home.

Make the new place resemble the old one.

An all-new environment with unfamiliar faces can be intimidating, especially for more reserved seniors. One step to settle in faster is to make your assisted living apartment look and feel familiar.

As you plan your move, decide how to decorate your new apartment so it resembles home. While you might need to donate or sell some of your furniture and home décor, hang on to your most treasured items. Incorporating a favorite chair or love seat, framed family photos, and other memorabilia can help make your new residence comfortable.

Be kind to yourself as you settle in.

It’s important to remind yourself that you will have good and bad days during this time. Most residents find as the weeks go by, the good days outnumber the bad. Be patient and kind to yourself while you are adjusting to this change.

Some older adults and their families find it helpful to create a plan for handling bad days. It might be an agreement to call an adult child or watch favorite family videos for comfort.

Visit a Five Star Community Today

Whether it’s an in-person visit or a virtual tour of a senior living community near you, there are many ways you can get to know Five Star Senior Living. We invite you to contact us to learn more!

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Why the Holidays Are a Great Time to Tour Assisted Living

The holidays are a season when families often gather together to celebrate. For those who are separated by great distances, it may be the first time all year everyone has been reunited. Loved ones are frequently caught off guard by the decline they see in an older family member. This is one reason senior living communities often experience a spike in phone calls from adult children during late December and early January.

While touring an assisted living community may not have been part of your original holiday plans, it can actually be a good time to visit. From the festive decorations to the hustle and bustle of activities, here’s what to know about visiting an assisted living community during the holidays.

Why Visit an Assisted Living Community During the Holidays?

1. The community is lively and fun

It’s not just the holiday décor that makes the community seem so lively and fun. Assisted living communities also have very full life-enrichment calendars during the holiday season. Many of these activities and events are intergenerational gatherings, such as elementary school choir concerts and visits from scouting troops.

Families tend to visit more during the holidays, as well. This will provide you with an opportunity to talk with them about how satisfied they are with the community’s care and support.

2. Beat the post-holiday rush

Though family members may realize a senior loved one needs more assistance during their holiday visit, they often delay contacting assisted living communities. Many put off making calls and scheduling visits until after the holidays are over. This makes January one of the busiest times of year for assisted living communities.

If you start researching and touring communities in December, your aging parent or relative will likely have more open apartments or suites from which to choose.

3. The entire family can help

One of the best reasons for touring assisted living communities during the holidays is that more family members may be in town. You can divide up the research and the tours. If adult children conduct initial phone calls and visits, they may be able to eliminate options that aren’t a good fit for the senior. Then family members can all return together to visit those that seem like the most viable options.

Schedule Your Holiday Tour at Five Star Senior Living

If you will be visiting assisted living communities on a loved one’s behalf, we hope you will consider Five Star Senior Living. You can find a community near you or call us to schedule a time!

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5 Tips to Help a Senior Manage Moving Anxiety

Moving is exhausting at any age. Cleaning out closets, packing belongings, and arranging countless details can feel overwhelming. For seniors, moving can take more than just a physical toll, it can trigger grief and sadness. Leaving the home where a senior raised a family can be especially traumatic.

If you are helping a senior loved one prepare for a move to an assisted living community, it’s important to recognize the emotional struggle this situation can create. Adult children or other family and friends might find that a loved one’s agitation and anxiety increases dramatically as moving day gets closer.

Anxiety Caused by Relocation Stress Syndrome

A senior might be excited to start a new chapter in life, one that comes with fewer worries about home maintenance and repairs. Anxiety and grief, however, may still be a prominent issue. Psychologists refer to these emotions as relocation stress syndrome (RSS)—a unique set of struggles older adults encounter when they relocate in their later years.

How can you help a senior you love cope with relocation stress syndrome? 

Here are some ideas to help make this transition go more smoothly.

5 Tips for Making a Smooth Transition to Assisted Living

1. Empower

It’s easy to get busy and rush through the decision-making process without including your senior loved one. When you don’t include them, however, you take away their sense of independence. Unless your family member has a health condition that limits their ability to participate, include them when making important decisions. For example, make initial visits to assisted living communities to narrow the options, but bring your family member with you on second visits and listen to their feedback. Try to balance your desire to diminish your loved one’s anxiety with a need for them to feel empowered and involved in the process.

2. Respect

The process of downsizing and packing up a home can be stressful. It can also lead to disagreements between you and your senior loved one. It’s important to remember that what you may see as unnecessary junk might be of sentimental value to your family member. Consider renting a storage unit temporarily to help treasured items find a new home with friends or family. Knowing a keepsake they love is in a child or grandchild’s home can help reduce moving anxiety.

3. Continuity

Adult children sometimes hold an estate sale to get rid of everything, especially if their loved one is moving a great distance. Not only can this experience be traumatic for an older adult, it also prevents them from keeping their treasured possessions. Being surrounded by familiar furniture and belongings can help a new environment feel more like home. Providing that continuity is one more way you can help manage moving anxiety and sadness.

4. Prepare

Moving day, and the weeks leading up to it, can be extremely stressful. Take time and create a plan to make the transition easier for your loved one. A few days before the move, pack a suitcase with your loved one’s personal care items, medications, and other necessities. Also, prepare a supply box with items needed on moving day, such as a coffee pot and supplies, snacks, towels, and washcloths. Set aside any valuables that your senior wants to keep close. Be sure to place everything in the car instead of sending it with the movers.

5. Laugh

Try to maintain a sense of humor throughout this process and encourage your loved one to do the same. Things will go wrong no matter how carefully you prepare. Do your best to overlook the small inconveniences and find humor instead of frustration. Always focus on the end result—your senior loved one will be thriving before long!

Answering Questions about Moving to Assisted Living

Preparing for a move to an assisted living community can leave both seniors and their family members with many questions. To help make things a little easier, we’ve created a resource hub for seniors ready to “Make the Move“. These blogs and e-book address many issues ranging from moving anxiety to hiring a senior move manager. We hope you find it useful!

For more information about moving to a senior living community, contact the experts at Five Star Senior Living today!

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Frequently Asked Questions about Assisted Living Communities

When adult children first begin to explore senior care options for an aging parent, they often find themselves a little unclear about the role an assisted living plays. Some think it is just a prettier version of a nursing home while others mistakenly believe an older adult must be in near-perfect health to move in to one.

We thought it might help if we answered a few of the most frequently asked questions about assisted living on our blog this week.

Assisted Living FAQs for Adult Children with Senior Parents

Q: If my father needs help with his showers and grooming, can he live in an assisted living community or does he need a nursing home?

A: Personal care is considered to be one of the activities of daily living (ADL). Many residents of an assisted living community require daily help with bathing, dressing and grooming. Your father would be able to get the help he needs in an assisted living community.

Q: My brother thinks our mother needs a nursing home because she needs assistance managing her medications. Is that true?

A: Needing help with medications doesn’t mean your mom can’t live in an assisted living community. In fact, medication management support is one of the most commonly required services for residents in an assisted living community.

Q: We are trying to figure out how to pay for our parents to move to an assisted living community. Their budget is fairly tight. My dad was a veteran though and I’ve heard there is assistance specifically for senior care. Does that cover assisted living?

A: The Aid & Attendance benefit can help veterans and their surviving spouse pay for care if they qualify. Contact the Five Star Senior Living community nearest you to learn more about this unique benefit.

Q: My mom and I are starting to research Memory Care Assisted Living communities for my father. His Alzheimer’s disease has progressed to the point where we can no longer safely manage him at home. My parents purchased long-term care insurance many years ago. Will it help to pay for assisted living or just a nursing home?

A: It depends upon the policy. Many do help pay for care in a licensed assisted living community. Typically on a daily rate. You should definitely review their policy or call the insurer to be sure.

Q: Can my parents bring their own furniture if they move to an assisted living community? I’m not sure I can convince my mom to move unless she can!

A: Goods news on this one. Older adults can definitely bring their own furniture with them when they move to an assisted living community. Most communities encourage residents to decorate their apartments in a way that makes it feel most like home to them!

Q: Do assisted living communities allow pets?

A: The answer to this one depends upon the community. Many are pet-friendly but usually have breed and weight limits on dogs.

Learn more about our pet-friendly Five Star Senior Living communities.

Q: Does Medicare pay for assisted living?

A: Unfortunately, the answer to this one is “no.” Medicare only covers healthcare related expenses such as a hospital stay or a short-term rehab stay. Because an assisted living community is considered to be for older adults who need custodial care, Medicare will not help with the costs.

We hope this helped to answer your questions about assisted living!

If you have a question we didn’t address here, we invite you to contact the Five Star Senior Living community closest to your senior loved one for more assistance.

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9 Tips for Touring An Assisted Living Community

Finding an assisted living community to meet the needs of an aging loved one requires research, legwork, and lots of discussion. It’s not a choice you can make sight unseen. You’ll want to tour potential communities before you and your loved one make a decision.

And, oftentimes, a partner or an adult child finds it easier to visit a variety of communities without their spouse or parent. Because many have an idea of what their senior family member will and won’t like, they can eliminate those they don’t think are a good fit. Then the whole party can visit the top two or three communities together later.

Whatever approach you choose, preparing ahead is the key to making the most of each tour.

How to Make the Most of Your Assisted Living Community Tour

Here are 9 tips to help you know what to ask and what to look for:

1.   Discuss preferences to narrow down the choices.

Would your loved one thrive in a more luxurious community? Or would they be more comfortable in a laidback environment? What types of activities do they enjoy and want to stay involved in?

Each assisted living community has its own unique personality, and you will want to find one where your loved one will feel at home.

2.   Investigate the staff-to-resident ratio.

Does the staff seem stressed and overworked? Or are they smiling and pleasant? Does the community appear to have enough staff members to care for the residents?

These are all important observations to make.

3.   Watch how the staff treats the residents.

More importantly, but definitely related to the ratio of staff to residents, is how the staff treats the residents.

Try to be an unobtrusive observer to see how staff behaves when they think no one is watching.

4.   Take a formal tour, but also wander the community on your own.

The formal tour will introduce you to all the services and amenities of the community. But it’s only when you walk the halls, visit the cafeteria, and peek in on classes unchaperoned that will you really see what the community is like.

After your formal tour, ask the staff member for a few minutes to wander around on your own.

5.   Share a meal in the community.

Assess the quality and nutritional value of the food in the community by eating a meal in the dining room with residents. Pay attention to how the residents and staff act.

Are they friendly and welcoming? Do people seem to be enjoying socializing over their meal? Will your loved one easily make friends here?

6.   Chat with the residents.

Chances are the residents in an assisted living community will be happy to have company and more than willing to chat. AARP recommends the following questions:

  • How long have you lived here?
  • Do you like living here?
  • What do you like to do during the day?
  • Is the staff attentive without being intrusive?
  • Are caregivers friendly?
  • Do you feel it’s worth the cost?

7.   Ask about day trips and transportation.

Ask the staff about what services and enrichment opportunities are located in the local area from shopping to cultural arts. What sort of transportation does the community offer to take advantage of these? Does the community schedule fun day trips for residents?

8.   Ask about area doctors and hospitals.

Investigate the doctors, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals that are onsite. Explore physicians and hospitals in the area, too.

Check the licensing and credentials of on-staff doctors. Are your loved one’s regular doctors nearby or will your aging loved one have to switch healthcare providers?

9.   Explore the facilitates and grounds.

The physical buildings and grounds can tell you a lot about a community. Is it warm and welcoming? Is it clean and well-kept? Or are walls, doors, and floors in disrepair? Is the landscaping well maintained?

Look for wide corridors, light colors, and well-lighted hallways, which can help reduce the risk of falls.

Making the Decision

A number of factors go into selecting an assisted living community for your aging loved one. And a personal tour is an important step in making an informed choice. Find a Five Star Senior Living community near you to schedule a tour today and see what sets us apart.

Contact Us Today

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