Even if you and your parent have met with staff when you decided on the facility, make an appointment to visit again before moving in. This allows your parent to meet or be reacquainted with staff with whom he'll be interacting. This could include social workers, therapists and nursing staff. You can also visit the room (or a similar room) so you both have a clear picture of living quarters and space for belongings.
When your parent sees the facility again, it will make the experience more real for him. Be prepared for negative reactions, as moving to a nursing home is a big adjustment.
As with any move, being prepared makes it more efficient and thorough. Assuming you and your parent have completed necessary paperwork and have a move-in date, you should begin to focus on what to take.
- Most of his furniture will not be moved. Nursing homes have beds, a dresser or wardrobe for clothes and a nightstand. There won't be room for many other pieces of furniture.
- Bring personal items for the room. Make the nursing home room as comfortable and personalized as possible. Bring family pictures, a TV, a reading lamp and favorite chair. Remember you can always bring more things as needed, space allowing, after your parent gets settled.
- Your parent will need to decide which clothes he'd like to take. Obviously, he won't need or be able to take everything, but he needs to feel like he can make some choices.
- Label all personal possessions. This is especially important if your parent will have his personal laundry done by the nursing home.
Ask another family member (or friend if there is no family to help) to be with you on moving day. This is not just to help physically move items, but for emotional support. Even though this could be a new beginning, don't underestimate how hard this may be for your elderly parent. Moving to a nursing home may also be very tiring for your parent; try to bring your pace down a notch.
When you've moved your parent and his belongings into his room, spend some time helping him settle in. Here are some things to do before you leave.
- Help him arrange the room the way he'd like. You both will have a better sense of what other things from home he might need. You will also see what needs to be purchased.
- Find a staff member to answer your questions. Both of you may want to know about visiting, meals, medical staff schedules, etc. It's very important to ask about services, such as laundry and outside doctor's visits.
- Most nursing homes have a weekly and monthly calendar of events. Make sure you and your parent get a copy.
Visit as Much as You Can
In the beginning of your parent's stay, plan to visit as much as possible. Seeing you will ease his transition to his new home. You'll also have an opportunity to become familiar with the staff and make sure your parent is getting good care.