Moving a Loved One to Long-Term Care

If your loved one is ready to move into a long-term care residence and has chosen their new home, the next step is to plan for the move. But downsizing a senior’s belongings and starting anew in a different place can feel like a daunting task. It can also be an emotional experience for both the individual and their family members. Here are some tips to make the process as easy as possible. 

Involve your loved one. Take them to visit the facility at least a few times before the move, and if possible, introduce them to staff and other residents. A tour could help them get excited to participate in activities or meet new people.  

Plan the move. Determine what items can be brought into the facility. This information is often on their website, or you can ask an admissions coordinator what they recommend. While you’re there with them, get a feel for the size of the apartment and how much furniture (if any) or other personal items you’ll be able to include.  

Consider hiring professional help. Senior move managers can help coordinate the process of downsizing and moving an older adult’s home.   

Be there on moving day. Even if you’ve hired movers, spend time with your loved one in their new home. Your presence can provide reassurance and emotional support. Helping your loved one unpack and put their belongings away can minimize feelings of disorientation. Consider sharing a meal with them in their new home. Introduce yourself to staff members and your loved one’s new neighbors.  

Personalize their space. Familiar photographs, quilts, and books can make the new space feel more comfortable and personal. A favorite chair or rocker can help them feel at home. Set them up with a smart picture frame or tablet and commit to updating it with new and old family photos. 

Be prepared emotionally. Making the move to long-term care may be hard for both you and your loved one. There are support groups for families of people in long-term care. The facility may be able to connect you with other family members of a resident. Spend some quiet time with your loved one in their new space before you leave.  

Be an active part of the community. Long-term care facilities welcome family visitors, so don’t be a stranger! And do your part to encourage other family members or members of your loved one’s faith community to visit them. Get involved in activities hosted by the staff. Attend care conferences and consider becoming involved with the family council. Many skilled nursing facilities have a presence on social media so friends and family members can see what life is like inside your loved one’s new home. Try to visit as often as you did before. And small gifts like flowers or magazines can brighten your loved one’s day. If you want to bring food, check with staff about any dietary restrictions.