Many people have a set idea of what a nursing home or old persons home is, and these are usually not pleasant. Thankfully most retirement homes are no longer like this and often once family members have moved they can settle in and enjoy the experience.
Moving loved ones is often riddled with guilt as well, with many people promising loved ones they will not move them into a retirement home. The problem is sometimes there is no other option, if you are looking after a partner the strain can just be too great or you have realized that your parents simply can no longer safely live alone and you cannot cope with juggling children, partners and the concern for your parents safety. It is important that you understand that there is no reason to feel guilty, you need to make your decision on what is best for you loved one and seek help if you are feeling guilt over this.
Let us have a look at a few things that you can do to make the transition a little easier for yourself and your loved ones.
Having regular conversations may not be an option for you, if your situation has rapidly changed, but if you are starting to worry about moving your loved one in the future, having regular conversations about nursing homes makes conversations closer to the date less painful.
Regular conversation make a move seems less daunting and allow your loved one, time to not only come to terms with the move, but also ask questions about fears they might have.
There is a line of thought that advocates not telling a loved one until they move to lower their time for worry about the move, and this may work for some people, you will know what suits your situation the best.
Make it their choice
We all like to feel that we have control of our lives and what we do, we do not like being told what do, and often if we are told what to do, even if we know it is best for us, if our self determination or freedom to choice seems to be threatened we are unlikely to agree to change.
Allow your loved the option to choose, this may mean that the move takes longer, or you need to have multiple conversations, but it is important that your loved feels like they were able to choose.
Coming to terms with moving into a home will not happen over night, and it will take multiple conversations over time. You need to be prepared to discuss nursing homes, allow time for you loved one to think about it and discuss it again.
You may need to look for opportunities to discuss moving into a home, these could include discussing friends who may have moved into a home, bringing to their attention near misses and the need to be neat help in the future.
Including medical professional in your loved ones move can help in two ways, firstly it can help to take the blame off family and secondly it can lend weight to what you are saying.
It is often difficult to come together as a family, often distances and conflicting schedules make it difficult, but it is important at at a time like this to come together and help one another. The family must agree on what course of action they would like to take, so that there are no factions within the family. It is often helpful to have a discussion as a family before talking to your loved one, so that you can discuss what you all feel comfortable with and how you would like to tackle the topic of moving. This may or may not be helpful for your situation.
Remember, family members will react differently and many may have strong opinions that you didn’t expect. Either way it is a very emotionally charged situation and should be handled with delicacy and diplomacy.
If you have friends who have successfully moved into a retirement home and are happy, ask them to talk to your loved one, or go and visit them in the home, let your loved one seethe positive side of retirement living.
Try before you by
Many retirement homes, will allow a week or a month stay before you commit to the home. It can be easier for your loved one to transition into care if they know that they are able to try the accommodation before they have to commit to it.
See the positives
If you loved one agrees to view a home, book the appointment as soon as possible. When you are viewing the home point out all the benefits, the on-site care, the yard, that they do not have to attend to alone but can still enjoy.
If your loved one is viewing several homes, let them decide upon what amenities they like and that they will find to be useful, or will make them happy. Specifying preferences allows your loved one to take ownership of the move and will make the transition much easier for them.
Plan all the activities that your loved one can join in, be informed how they can join in activities and help them to join these activities in their first weeks, so that hey can meet other residents and settle in well.
Make the move as smooth as possible, measure furniture and make it fun. Treat moving into a home as a move into a new apartment (which it is). It does not need to be terrible, dreary and sad. Instead your loved one is moving somewhere safe and this new home should be exciting and the move should be treated like a move to a new apartment.
Be prepared for depression
A move at any time in life is not easy and for many people moving into a retirement home can represent lack of independence and as step away from family. These feelings are difficult for anyone, the family need to be prepared for days where your loved one, no matter how well the move goes, feels sad, misses their home, misses friends and family or the familiar. Be prepared and know that you have made the right choice and have done so with their best interests at heart .
A retirement home is not a place to drop off your family, it should simply be viewed as a change of address, where there is more care available. A change of address should no mean less visits, just because they are physically safe does not mean you should decrease your visits, rather you should enjoy your loved one’s new home with them.
We all remember the excitement of moving into our first homes, moving into a retirement home might not seem as exciting, but going shopping for one or two new ornaments or things that a loved one might need can help to make the occasion a little less daunting and add a little spice to the move. A trip may also give you time to talk to your loved one and alleviate some of their fears.
Make it homely
No one wants to live in a beige room with beige walls, no photos in a room that is exactly the same as the room next door. Make the new room or apartment homely. Add touches, such as photos, decoration and memorabilia. A house is not a home, so make the new place a real home.
Talk to them
We all like to know that we are import and what we do is valuable, ask your loved one about their new surroundings, how do they feel are they enjoying it and what is going on. Really listen and ask.
Become familiar with the schedule of activities in the home, encourage your loved one to join in activities that might interest them or that encourage socialisation.
The outside world
Humans are social beings, and we like to see the world that we live in. Make sure that once your loved one is in the home you still organize regular, fun and relevant activities outside the home.