Does Mom need assisted living? That’s a question that many adult children – and their parents – find themselves asking at a certain point in the aging journey. On one hand, you may logically realize that assisted living would be a real benefit. On the other hand, you may find yourself saying things like, Dad seems too young for assisted living. or Mom is still healthy, she just needs some help with a few things every day. Even if your loved one is healthy and active, that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from assisted living, says Devon Sicard, Executive Director of Waterstone at Wellesley.
“Many seniors and their adult children can become resistant when they hear the words assisted living because they have a lot of assumptions that simply aren’t true,” Devon says. “Assisted living isn’t just for older adults who aren’t able to perform the activities of daily life. In fact, assisted living can be home to many active and independent seniors who simply want the peace of mind and convenience a community provides.”
Whatever the situation, when an individual decides to move into senior living, there are a lot of things at play that can be emotionally, mentally and physically taxing. “As an adult child of someone moving into senior living, you will end up playing a major role in the process,” Devon explains. “It can be relatively easy, but it can also be drawn out and difficult – a lot of it will depend on your involvement and how you help in various situations.”
If you’re an adult child of a parent or parents who have decided to move into assisted living, how can you help? What’s the best way to go about things? Here are some of our tried-and-true tips to help you assist a loved one as they prepare and move into this new phase of life.
Tour communities with your parents.
While ultimately the choice of community belongs to your Mom and Dad, it always helps to have another brain and pair of eyes to help narrow down the options and choose the best option for the individual. It’s a good idea, if your parents are amenable to it, to tour the various communities they’ve chosen with them (and maybe on your own, too). Since you won’t be living in the community, you have a different viewpoint on everything and perhaps can shed light on different aspects that your parents might miss. You can also keep track of the positives, negatives and variables at each community, which can help you and your parents sit down and weigh options against each other.
Help them work through the downsizing process.
Once a community has been decided upon, there’s yet another hurdle: downsizing and selling Mom and Dad’s current home. This is in and of itself is a huge undertaking that requires a lot of planning and work. Be a resource for your parents – let them know you’re able and willing to help, which they may need, especially if they haven’t moved in a while. When moving into assisted living, many older adults will need to let go of a significant number of personal items. Being open and available to help your parents – physically and emotionally – can help make the situation a little easier.
Give your parents time to grieve.
Even if you and your parents know that moving into assisted living is the right thing, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t sadness and uncertainty that come with the decision. In a way, moving into assisted living is the closing of one chapter and realizing that Mom and Dad are getting older. Give your parents (and even yourself) a chance to grieve and process the change. But at the same time, understand that this move is a good thing and that it means the start of a new chapter of life that can be embraced to the fullest.
It’s always easiest to make plans when there’s a deadline in place. So, the first step is to determine when exactly your parent or loved one intends to move into assisted living. Once you have a general idea, work backward from there. When should you move into the community? When should the house be put on the market to be sold? When should you have everything packed up and ready to go? Even if the move isn’t for six months or longer, it’s good to have a general idea of when your parents want to make the move – that way, you can start putting plans into place to make the transition that much smoother.
Figure out how to move.
The act of moving can be quite stressful. There’s no need to add anxiety and uncertainty to it. Some experts suggest that parents choose and move into assisted living before selling their current home because that simply helps avoid rushing for rushing’s sake. If that works for you, great! If not, work with your parents, their real estate agent and the community staff to coordinate everything in order to transition easily. You may want to see if it’s possible for Mom and Dad to find a temporary space to get the home sold before moving into assisted living. Or, can they move into assisted living and then put plans in order to sell their current home? A lot depends on the individual situation, and there’s no right or wrong answer.
Get their new home ready.
When it comes time for the physical move, adult children can be an enormous help. While there’s a level of excitement that comes with moving, there’s also a level of anxiety – and having someone to talk and work through the process can make it easier, calmer and a lot more fun. Talk with your mom and dad about their new space and how they want their belongings organized. Take measurements of their new apartment or home and work with them to figure out a floor plan that incorporates their necessary items and also cues you into things you might need to buy. Once you have a plan in place, talk with the community staff to see about getting the new home set up – earlier is always preferable.
Clear your schedule.
On moving day, it always helps to have a helping hand – and your parents will appreciate any assistance you can give. Clear your schedule so on the actual day of moving, you can be ready and available to help assist with the moving truck, unpack at the community, clear away trash and detritus and generally help Mom and Dad settle in. Depending on your parent’s abilities and mental state, you may want to talk with the community staff to get their advice and opinions.
Give them space.
Moving your parents into assisted living may make you feel a little sad, anxious and worried – in other words, how they might have felt when you went to college or moved away from home. Although you may want to hover over your parents to see how they’re doing and help them get settled, the best thing to do is, more than likely, give them space to settle in on their own. This can be hard, but staying out of their way will give Mom and Dad the opportunity to adjust to their new lifestyle and start making a new routine.
Moving your parents into assisted living may feel a bit unnerving, especially if you’ve been spending lots of time helping care for them. It’s important to understand that moving them into assisted living isn’t an end – it’s a new beginning. Eventually, you and your parents will find your groove and allow the benefits of their new community to fully blossom … leaving you with peace of mind and the ability to enjoy each day as it comes.
Beautiful Riverfront Community
Located on the banks of the Charles River, Waterstone is Wellesley’s only senior living community, offering premier independent and assisted living. But that’s only the first of many differences that sets Waterstone above and beyond other communities.
Celebrating Dynamic Living
Here our residents live independently in their own private, spacious apartments – but without any of the worries or concerns of homeownership or living alone. All meals are expertly prepared. There aren’t any chores to be concerned with. No home maintenance or repairs to worry about. Just opportunities around every corner and time to spend as they choose – in the company of new friends.
Our vibrant community encourages residents to engage in a variety of recreational, cultural and social programs and activities. Enjoy a fitness class. Swim in the sunny indoor pool. Take a stroll on a walking path. Partake in a favorite hobby or pastime. Discover a new interest. With Waterstone at Wellesley, there’s a world of opportunity waiting right outside our residents’ doors.
Confidence of Care
The hallmark of Waterstone assisted living is the peace of mind we provide both our residents and their families. Knowing that care and support are available right on site instills a sense of confidence and calm one can’t find living alone.
For prospective residents or their families interested in residing at Waterstone at Wellesley, please contact us at 781.591.7113.