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Making the transition

Posted October 02, 2013 in Advice Column, Urbandale

When the time comes to move a family member into a new residence for more care, that transition can be quite difficult.

Oftentimes families find themselves wondering if there is anything they can do to make the transition go better. While there will always be an adjustment period, there are some things you can do to help make the transition easier.

First, if possible, it is always helpful to bring the family member out to see where his or her new home is and what it is like. This can help ease any anxiety about what things look like, and your family member will know more of what to expect on moving day. Any facility should be more than happy to accommodate this request, and it’s a good time for your loved one to meet some residents and have friendly conversations.

Setting up the room ahead of time is typically the No. 1 best thing you can do. Bringing in items from home that are of importance and having them set up and ready on moving day is incredibly comforting. It makes the room more welcoming, and your loved on can see how much of his or her own belongings he or she still has to start the new journey with.  Moving into an empty room and having to sit and watch while your belongings are moved in is terribly overwhelming; doing it in advance will help greatly. Most facilities should allow you the luxury of setting up early and hanging things on walls to make it feel more like home.

Once the resident has moved in to his or her new home, the best thing you can do is continue to visit. I am shocked to find out how many people believe the best thing to do is to move a family member in and not visit for a week or more to allow him or her to settle in. Actually, visiting often after the move is best to reassure your loved one that you are still here for him or her, and you will still be visiting just like you did at the previous living arrangement. When visiting, offer to take the resident out during meals and activities to help ease the anxiety of participating in new things with new people.

It’s important to anticipate some changes in behavior those first few weeks. Additional confusion is likely after making a move like this, especially if the individual suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s. It is also quite common for individuals to isolate themselves the first few days. It’s intimidating moving into new surroundings on top of all the new emotions of having just left home. Be patient and understanding and utilize the resources and people at your loved one’s new home for advice and questions.

Information provided by Courtney Tiernan, community liaison director, Urbandale Health Care Center, 4614 84th St., Urbandale, (515) 270-6838.

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