Q. My mother, age 84, recently decided that she wants to move to an Assisted Living Facility. Together we have done a lot of “homework” to find a community that offered the type of activities and accommodations that she was searching for. It’s also within 30 minutes of my home, so our visits and family activities won’t miss a beat. A real bonus! She is scheduled to move in at the end of the next month, but now she is having second thoughts and jitters. She didn’t make the decision easily and spent a lot of time finding the best place for her. I think it’s just nerves. Any thoughts?
Ellen J., Weston
A: Your mother sounds like a very strong and decisive woman. To make such a big change in her life took a lot of courage and planning and it’s understandable that as moving day approaches the reality of it is sinking in and she may be having second thoughts.
As with any transition, at any age, easing into a new situation can help to lessen anxieties. Here are some suggestions for making the change go smoother for her:
In the next few weeks, arrange to have a few lunches with her at the ALF and make an effort to help her meet some residents. The executive director should be able to facilitate these introductions with happy residents. Positivity is a good thing!
While you are there, go together to her new apartment and talk about how her own furnishings will fit and how she wants to decorate it.
Consider using a certified Senior Move Manager who is experienced in helping seniors through the emotional “downsizing” of their lives. She will work with your mother to determine which furniture pieces will fit in her new residence, and make all the arrangements for the move so everything can be in place in a short amount of time. You can find a Move Manager on The National Association of Senior Move Managers Website (www.nasmm.org).
On moving day, once everything is delivered, help her put her personal items away and display her family mementos so it quickly feels like her home.
Finally, when the move is complete, break open a bottle of champagne and, with your family and siblings, share a toast to her new life.
Nancy Stein, Ph.D., is the founder of SeniorityMatters.com, a local caregiver advisory and referral service for South Florida seniors and their families. You can contact her at email@example.com.