Making a Positive Transition to Long-Term Care

Stacey Houseknecht, Director of Quality of Life at Saunders House in Wynnewood, PA, says, “Most of us don’t like major changes or disruptions in our lives, no matter what our age. However, as we age we seem more inclined to cling to things that are familiar and comfortable, including our homes, possessions and daily routines.

“Additionally, the perceived loss of personal independence can be particularly challenging. At the same time, if your loved one needs 24-hour care and assistance with the basic activities of daily living, the proper environment is essential to their well-being. Advanced age, illness or a chronic condition can make round-the-clock care and support a necessity.

“Fortunately, there are helpful steps you can take to ease your loved one’s transition to long-term senior living.”

Expert Tips to Make the Transition Easier

For families that recognize the need for 24-hour care for their loved one’s continued health and safety, the article, Easing the Transition to Residential Care Settings,” offers several useful recommendations. These include:

  • Do your research and ask about state licensure survey results – Caregivers need to have a high degree of comfort in their selection. The quality of long-term care providers can vary greatly. Is the community deficiency-free? If they had deficiencies on their latest state survey, what were they? Is the community close enough to your home and/or work to allow for visitation at a level that is best for your family? Does the community meet the specific medical, social, therapeutic and emotional needs of your loved one? 
  • Discuss it with your loved one – Do not let your loved one think that you are making the decision for them. The first conversation should be a discussion, not an intervention. Stress their need for round-the-clock care to remain safe and well. Prepare for the fact that the process may take time.
  • Empathize with their emotions – Be sensitive to their emotional attachment to their home and their memories there. Let them know that you understand that it is a difficult time. Be patient and understanding. Offer reassurance of your ongoing commitment and plans for regular visitation.
  • Prepare their room ahead of time – Plan to have the room set up before your loved one moves in. Put in familiar items, but nothing of significant value that could be misplaced or damaged. Creating a familiar, home-like environment for your loved one is extremely important in helping them to make a successful transition.
  • Be with them for the move – Accompany your loved for the actual move, and reinforce that they will be okay and that you are there to help. You may want to stay for the day and have dinner with them in the community. When it is time to leave, explain that you have to leave for a while, but will return as soon as you can. Assure your loved one that they will be fine.
  • Have a “home-warming party” – Take the opportunity to celebrate. Bring cherished items or new items to decorate with as well as their favorite treats or dessert. Invite their friends for the occasion as well.
  • Provide input to the staff – Discuss your loved one with the staff, including their personality traits, likes and dislikes, personal interests and history. Employees need time to learn about your loved one's medical condition, temperament, behavior patterns and preferences. 
  • Ask for some special attention – Introduce your loved one to the employee who will be available during the first shift that they are there alone. Ask the staff to communicate that your loved one is new to the community and needs some special consideration, kindness and reassurance.
  • Eat together – Dining together a couple of times a week can be a great way to keep in touch and maintain that family bond. In addition, residents may socialize more when there is someone new to introduce.
  • Stay connected and be their advocate – Check in regularly for visits. You can also use that time to monitor the care of your loved one on a regular basis and to be their advocate with the staff and administration.
  • Take care of yourself, too! – This can be a very challenging, emotional time for you as well. Use your network of family and friends for emotional comfort. You can also seek support from others who have been through this situation. The long-term care community may host a support group on-site, or you can look for a support group in your area. 

Adds Ms. Houseknecht, “By following this excellent advice, you can help to smooth the transition to a residential long-term care community for your loved one. Above all, be compassionate, empathetic and supportive. Be sure to provide whatever assurances and information your loved one may need to assist them in coping with this significant change in their life.”

Individualized Care that Respects Your Loved One’s Unique Life Story

“Our professional and compassionate team treats our long-term residents as part of our family,” says Ms. Houseknecht. “We continually strive to provide them with exceptional care and an extraordinary quality of life.

“At Saunders House, we stress the importance of individuality. We understand that each one of our residents has unique histories, needs and desires, so we deliver personalized care and services tailored to each person. From our warm and comforting setting to delightful amenities, we do everything we can to make our residents feel at home and fully engaged in life every day.”

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services, including short-term rehabilitationtraditional nursing care, restorative carememory carerespite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments, all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at (610) 658-5100 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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