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8 Ways to Ease Your Loved One’s Transition to a Care Facility

8 Ways to Ease Your Loved One’s Transition to a Care Facility


When it’s time for a loved one to transition to residential care, choosing the right facility is only the first step in settling them into their new home. In preparation, you’ve likely had many conversations with them about the need for a new caregiving solution and where they’ll be moving to. That level of empathy, plus a lot of listening, will be important during and after the move as well. Here are several ways to make the transition easier. 

1. Introduce yourself and your loved one to the staff before moving day

Once you’ve chosen a facility, schedule a time when you and your loved one can visit and get to know the people who will be most involved in their care. This can also be a good time for them to familiarize themselves with your loved one’s needs and interests. Being familiar with the staff before move-in day can add a level of comfort and knowledge for everyone. 

You can also use this time to identify activities at the facility that your loved one might enjoy, such as playing cards or board games, music nights, or any social activities that can help them be as engaged as possible. If possible, proactively sign up your loved one for events and activities, so they’re included from day one. While you’re in the facility, you may also want to see about joining a group for lunch or introducing your loved one to other residents, so they aren’t starting from zero on day one. 

2. Transfer medical information to the care facility

All medical records and prescriptions need to be transferred to your loved one’s new home by the time they move in. Coordinate with current providers about any changes so there aren’t lapses in care, plan ahead for transportation if they’ll be seeing doctors outside the facility, and share relevant medical history with in-home physicians or medical providers so they know what to look out for with your loved one’s care. 

3. Make sure legal and financial affairs are in order 

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has good advice on factors to consider before, during, and after the move to assisted living, including a convenient checklist. This includes a list of legal papers you’ll want to have on file at the facility – though you’ll want to keep copies for yourself, too. 

If your loved one has been managing their own money, this transition period can also be a good time to reassess how their finances are being managed. As a family member, there are a few different roles you step into to provide support, while still maintaining your relationship. You can also take advantage of technology like the True Link platform to help protect your loved one from financial exploitation while still providing some autonomy around spending money.

4. Update service providers 

Be sure to stop utility services at your loved one’s home and transfer those they will still need – such as cell phone and WiFi service – to their new address. You can use the U.S. Postal Service’s mail change-of-address and forwarding service for many address changes, but it’s a good idea to confirm address change notifications yourself on important materials and subscriptions. You may also want to reach out to your loved one’s friends and extended family so they know about the move too, and can stay in touch. 

5. Downsize and organize

Chances are, your loved one has acquired a lot of belongings over the years, so you’ll need to make some choices: keep, donate, or maybe store. Even if your loved one has memory loss, certain items may still be comforting. Regardless, include your loved one in the sorting decisions. They might want to gift certain items to friends and family, or may want to store things that won’t fit in their new home, at least temporarily. Knowing they don’t have to give up everything may reduce some anxiety, and surrounding your loved one with favorite photos, artwork, and other familiar items will make them feel more at home in their new space. 

6. Encourage your loved one to be part of settling in

Let your loved one choose how the furniture and artwork will be arranged, where favorite possessions will be displayed, and how they want everything organized. For people with memory loss, you may need to lead some of the organizing of items like clothes and personal care items so they’re easy to locate. Make sure everything is fully set up, including the TV, phone, and WiFi, before you leave the facility. And if you have time, walk around the facility with your loved one on their first day to introduce them to staff and immediate neighbors and help them learn how to get around the building(s). 

7. Visit and check in frequently

If you can, visit the day after moving day or as soon as possible. Leaving your home can feel scary and isolating, even if there are a lot of kind people around. Early visits can help your loved one settle into their new space knowing they haven’t been left or forgotten. Plan ahead for how your family will keep in touch – whether that’s in person, over the phone, or video call. Many of us lead busy lives, so scheduling these check-ins and planning ahead for the holidays can make it easier to manage and be there for your loved one.

8. Be patient

Your loved one’s transition will take some time, and they may push you to let them return to their home. If this happens, it’s best to not argue about why they need to be in a long-term facility or why this is best for them. Instead, listen, be compassionate, and look for positives to highlight, such as the activities they enjoy and the friend’s they’ve made. And remind them you are still there for them, just like you always have been.

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