Ask the Expert- How to prepare your loved one for Assisted Living
By Director of Nursing, Susan Hovorka, RN

Our new community is opening soon, and as the Director of Nursing, I thought it would be helpful to share some tips on making a move into Assisted Living a success for your loved one. We understand this move can be emotionally challenging, and I have experienced many of these difficulties myself in recently helping my mom move.

  1. Talk to your loved one about this move. This sounds obvious, but a move to an Assisted Living community can be challenging. Our seniors have experienced a great deal of loss in life, and one of the most difficult is moving to a smaller place. As adult children, we can be focused on quickly moving through a “to-do” list, but don’t forget to check in with your loved one. What emotions are they feeling about the move? What are some of their fears and worries they have? If your loved one is comfortable, share those fears and worries with our team so we can help. One thing we’ve noticed is many of our seniors struggle with pre-conceived notions of retirement homes. In the past rest homes were scary places with very sick and frail people. Today’s assisted living communities are bright and airy and feel like home. Many people we work with are basing their decision on not wanting to end up in a nursing home; they want to plan in advance to be in a place where they can live comfortably for a very long time. 
  1. Designate a family communications leader. Families with more than one sibling tend to have varied opinions on how to best care for mom or dad. While everyone can be involved in care planning meetings, it is helpful to designate one communications leader. If there is an emergency, I can contact one person and communicate next steps. In some cases, the family communications leader is also the Health Care Power of Attorney. This is not required at our community, but it is important as a family to discuss your loved one’s health care wishes and goals so everyone is on the same page. The Health Care Power of Attorney is responsible for carrying out these wishes should your loved one not be able to communicate.
  1. Get to know the lingo. ECC/IL/ALF, etc. – the acronyms can be confusing. Twin Creeks will be an Assisted Living and Memory Care community that holds an Extended Congregate Care license. This means that our community will be a lovely place to live for older people that require some help with their activities of daily living. This includes help with bathing or dressing, or medication management. Our team at Twin Creeks is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care – specifically designed for your loved one. Twin Creeks must incorporate the resident’s independence, dignity, choice and decision making into the care plan.
  1. Visit other communities. Choosing the right community is a lot like choosing the right college for your senior. We want to make sure that Twin Creeks is the best fit for your family considering location, budget, availability and atmosphere. We are happy to help you set up in-person visits to best use your time. When you are visiting, ask…How is the team trained? What if one of your residents has difficult behaviors? How does the team look – energized, happy, stressed? Does everyone know the residents? How does the community handle emergencies?
  1. Schedule a home visit with our team. We want to be sure our team is best equipped to take care of your loved one, and the best way is by scheduling a home visit. During this visit we’ll talk to you and your loved one about their typical day, medications they are currently taking and physical needs. We enjoy getting to know your family’s history and goals your loved one may have for the future. Be sure to schedule the visit for a time when your loved one has had a chance to get going for the day. After the visit, our team will determine what the level of care needs are, and we will tailor an individualized care plan.
  1. Gather your paperwork. Moving from your home into an Assisted Living community does require some advanced planning and paperwork. You’ll need a doctor’s appointment and be prepared to provide the following items:
  • Form 1823 to be completed by your physician
  • Negative TB Test completed within 30 days prior to move-in
  1. Work your floor plan. As much as we would like to bring everything from our homes to our Assisted Living apartments, the reality is that the space will be smaller than your home. In order to have a safe, comfortable home at Twin Creeks, we suggest you start by considering the items in your home that make you happy such as favorite photos and a comfortable blanket. Then, floor planning the basics – your bed, nightstand, dresser, comfy chair, lamp and side table. You may want to bring some favorite furniture from home, but be sure the items are safe and easy to maneuver around. Our team can help you work your floor plan before your loved one moves in so that move-in day goes smoothly.
  1. Plan your “date day.” Some of the happiest family relationships we see in our community are ones who have a regular time each week when they can be together. One mother-daughter I know has a Jeopardy night each Tuesday. The daughter brings her mom’s favorite – a chocolate shake – and they watch Jeopardy together. If you live far away, plan a phone or Skype date. Our team is happy to help make it happen.

Your loved one has transitioned so many times in life, and they may have had to downsize again and again. We understand this can be so hard emotionally. Our team has had a great deal of experience helping families go through it. If I can answer any other questions or be of help, please reach out to me at (813) 336-2128 or email susan.hovorka@twincreekretire.com.