How to Move Your Loved One From a Hospital to a Senior Living Community
Although transitioning to senior living in a thoughtful and slow manner is ideal, some older adults don’t have that opportunity. Some seniors need to move directly into a senior living community after a discharge from the hospital, while others need to move to a skilled nursing facility before moving into their new senior living community home.
Being prepared and making the most of your time can keep the move from feeling overwhelming. No matter whether your loved one is going to a skilled nursing facility for further care or if they are moving to an assisted living community right after their hospital stay, you can still find a community your loved one will thrive in.
Moving to a senior living community after a hospital or skilled nursing discharge can certainly feel rushed, leaving you stressed out. However, we have the information you need to make the transition smooth for yourself or for your loved one. Let’s get into our top six tips.
1. Stay updated with hospital discharge plans.
If your loved one is in the hospital, it’s important to note that discharge planning begins almost immediately. While your loved one will remain in the hospital to get the acute care they need, the hospital’s social work team will begin to assess their needs and prepare for discharge. Be sure to remain updated with discharge plans so you aren’t blindsided by a fast discharge.
You can connect with your loved one’s care team immediately and touch base with them daily to see what the discharge timeline looks like, as well as keep them informed on your senior living search progress. As long as you aren’t taking a very long time finding a senior living community, discharge planners at the hospital are often able to shift the discharge date by a few days in order to buy you more time to find the right fit.
Similarly, if your loved one is moving from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility and then to a memory care or assisted living community, you will work with the discharge team at the hospital and then at the skilled nursing facility.
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2. Find the right senior living lifestyle option.
When your loved one is still in the hospital, you can begin to search for senior living communities as a part of their discharge plan. However, you will need to search quickly because a discharge date is looming on the horizon. This means you need to make the process as efficient as possible.
Begin with senior living research.
Begin your search by looking for communities that provide the lifestyle option your loved one will need. If you aren’t sure what type of support and assistance they will need when they leave the hospital, speak with their physician or their care team for recommendations.
When transitioning from a hospital or rehab stay, assisted living and memory care are two options often considered based on cognitive health and needs. Once you know the lifestyle option you are looking for, you can find communities that offer this option in your preferred location.
Is assisted living the right choice?
Assisted living offers around-the-clock caregiver oversight and assistance, all personalized to each resident’s needs and abilities. Residents enjoy knowing that they can receive support with tasks like dressing, grooming, or bathing. They’ll also have three meals a day in the on-site dining room with neighbors. These communities are active, with multiple programs and events scheduled throughout the days and evenings.
Is memory care the right choice?
For someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, a memory care community can provide caregiver assistance, environmental support, and other accommodations that enhance the quality of life.
3. Ask the right questions about the senior living communities.
Now that you have a list of communities in your desired location that offer the right lifestyle option for your loved one, you can make calls to each community to get more information. This way, you can narrow your choices down even more before you begin the touring stage of the process.
When you call each community, have a list of questions handy so that you know what to ask. Jot down the answers to keep the information organized as you further narrow down your list. Here are a few questions you can ask in order to determine which communities make your short tour list.
What care types are you able to provide?
Be sure the community you are looking at provides the lifestyle option that your loved one needs.
Do you have any available apartments?
Depending on your discharge plan, you might not be able to wait for weeks or months for an apartment to become available. Asking upfront if there are any available apartments can help you to know if you should pursue the community further.
Do you have the capacity to handle an upcoming quick discharge?
Most assisted living and memory care communities can handle a quick discharge, but it’s important to ask. If you choose that community, you’ll know their team members are ready to spring into action with assessments and other tasks to prepare the way for your loved one.
What are your monthly fees?
Be sure that the community you’re looking at fits your loved one’s budget. If you aren’t sure how much your loved one can afford to pay monthly, speak with their financial advisor to ensure you have the right information.
Can I schedule a tour in the next few days?
You’ll want to schedule a tour of any potential communities in order to get more information. During your inquiry call, ask if there is an opportunity to schedule a tour as soon as possible so you can continue your decision-making process.
4. Take a tour of potential senior living communities.
When possible, schedule tours back-to-back so you can maximize your time off of work and away from your loved one’s side. During your tours, take time to interact with key leadership staff, observe residents in the halls and in programs, check out the food menu options and event calendar, and get a good feel for the environment and culture.
Make these key observations:
- Cleanliness: Is the community clean, well kept, and cared for?
- Resident appearances and interactions: Are residents well cared for, happy, and interacting with one another?
- Team interactions: Are caregivers interacting genuinely with residents and one another?
- Community activities: Are there events occurring? Are residents gathering with one another in community spaces?
- Welcoming atmosphere and vibrant lifestyle: Does it feel good in the community? Are residents active, happy, and participating in the life of the community?
- Amenities and services: Are the services and amenities available at the community going to benefit your loved one?
When possible, involve your loved one in the decision-making process by having them tour along with you via video chat. You can also bring them brochures and information packets so they can advocate for their needs and preferences.
5. Make the decision while supporting your loved one emotionally.
It’s important to remember that while this process is quite stressful for you, it’s also quite stressful and jarring for your loved one.
Acknowledge and understand your loved one’s emotional journey.
Your loved one may push back on moving to a community, express sadness about moving out of their home with little warning, or even become angry at the situation. All of these feelings are valid. Unfortunately, a fast hospital or skilled nursing discharge schedule does not allow for months of working through the emotions and getting the mental health support they might need. However, you can still offer them the support they need as they process through the emotions they’re experiencing.
Reach out to mental health professionals and the senior living community.
First, talk to the discharge planner about scheduling social work visits for your loved one. Then, ask the memory care or assisted living community you choose if they can make every effort to provide extra TLC and support to your loved one through resident welcome events, support groups, and counseling visits. Finally, consider scheduling regular visits with a therapist who has experience with senior transitions. You can coordinate transportation through the senior living community or ask if the therapist does housecalls.
Once you have decided on a senior living community, a representative from the team will likely come to visit your loved one while they are in the hospital or skilled nursing facility. This is a crucial step that begins the relationship-building process and allows the senior living team to get to know your loved one and their needs.
The senior living community will then become a part of the discharge planning team and guide you and your loved one through any necessary preparations before the move, as well as help you get ready for moving day.
6. Prepare for moving day and beyond.
Moving day can be stressful, especially because you will be in charge of getting the furniture and other items from your loved one’s home before they arrive from the hospital.
Hire helping hands, if possible.
Work closely with your senior living community to find vetted senior moving companies that can make the process as easy as possible for you. Remember, you don’t need to prepare your loved one’s home for sale or empty everything out at this time. Instead, you just need to prepare their new home in the senior living community to feel welcoming and cozy, filled with furniture, art, and things they love.
Know what to expect after the move.
The first day at a senior living community is busy, but it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. When possible, work with your loved one so they know what to expect on that first day, as well as the reason why so many team members and residents are stopping by to say hello.
Ease the transition by staying connected.
Finally, you can ease the transition for your loved one by spending time with them during their first few days at their new community. At Cedarhurst Senior Living communities, our innovative Pair to Prepare™ program invites new residents to have a family member spend the first few days and nights by their side. This can make for a more successful transition for both the resident and their family member.
You can also encourage other family members and friends to connect with your loved one during their first few months in the community. Try creating a calendar so that your loved one can expect and look forward to check-ins from certain people on certain days.
When it’s time to transition from a hospital to senior living, you’ve got this!
Coordinating a move from a hospital to a senior living community can certainly be stressful, but when you work with the hospital as well as an outstanding senior living community, you’ll be able to transition your loved one to their new home smoothly.
If you aren’t sure if your loved one is healthy and safe at home, take our assessment to determine if it is time to get help.