There is no single defining factor, but a variety of indicators, which signal it may be time to transition your spouse into assisted living. It is an undeniable milestone of the aging process. Unfortunately, the move into assisted living can sometimes be accompanied by shame and pessimism for the person transitioning. However, it doesn’t have to be. Although this process can create an inarguably difficult situation for both you and your spouse, here are some ways you can proactively ease the transition:
Remain a Team
Just because you aren’t living together doesn’t mean you won’t still have a big presence in your spouse’s life. You can still involve your spouse in your decisions and tell them about your day. By staying strong through the process, it will empower your spouse to take ownership of their own personal well-being and remind them that you’re still a team. Help your spouse create a list of questions prior to move-in so that they feel comfortable and confident that wherever they are, their needs will be met.
Do Your Due Diligence
When selecting a facility, make an informed decision around care, cost, and proximity according to your spouse’s current and future. How quickly is their condition expected to deteriorate? Is the staff able to provide the anticipated level of care required? Adequate medical care is key—it has the power to bring joy to your marriage and give you and your spouse, peace of mind.
Given that higher levels of care incur higher costs over time, understand the facilities’ cost structure. While assisted living communities provide care, they are also a business that charge for their services, so understanding different care options and their associated costs may avoid a future move into another facility.
Explore the Amenities
Remaining active – physically, spiritually, and socially – is a pivotal part of thriving in old age and will help create a sense of joy and purpose for your spouse post-move. Ensure their assisted living facility has a robust schedule of events, such as fitness sessions, trivia, art, and religious services. Consider how to motivate them to participate frequently enough so that they establish a new sense of normalcy. Most importantly, attend events prior to move-in day. Start something together; work on a puzzle, play a game of bingo, and help them socialize with others at the facility. That way, once they transition into the facility, they will already feel ingrained in the community and have somewhat of an established routine.
Create a Familiar Space
While the transition into assisted living involves a lot of change, you can maintain your spouses’ sense of familiarity by emulating a familiar environment. Fill their new space with sentimental items, family photos, and keepsakes reminiscent of your life together.
Keep in mind that you may want to change your environment as well. If you’re considering selling your home and downsizing in the upcoming years, you’ll want to get your start getting your home ready for the market. If you have an older home, you may need a home protection plan for any repairs required. Don’t forget to start making a plan for yourself—the earlier you prepare, the better.
When you’re transitioning your spouse into a new, unfamiliar place, patience is key. There will be days when your spouse complains about things—maybe it’s the people down the hall, the food, or their loneliness. You’ll be met with resistance and denial. While it may take months, wait until they are adjusted to take them on outings. Giving in to their temporary dissatisfactions will only complicate the transition and make it harder for them to accept the circumstances. You’ll want to set clear boundaries and expectations of what you are and what you’re not capable of doing.
When transitioning your spouse into assisted living, remind yourself it’s for their well-being, as well as your own. Caregiver burnout is real and you are making the best decision you can. You aren’t the sole provider of their well-being. Do what you can and trust that it’s for the best.
About the author: Emma Cook is a recent graduate and freelance writer working hard to build her portfolio. Whether it’s aging, home life, or mental health, her goal is to empower others to live their fullest life—and her strategy is writing.