Reader Q&A: What Activities Prior to Assisted Living Move-In?

A reader named Denise asked a great question about activities while preparing to move into an assisted living community.  She asked:

I  would like to hear more about activities that can be done with my mom while she is in my home awaiting the transition to assisted living. I loved the articles by the activity director. I used her suggestions and found a wonderful facility for my mom for Feb. 1. I interviewed the activity director and she was very helpful. Thank you for the help. Denise and family

Some good suggestions are to keep your mom involved in activities of daily living (ADLs) like food preparation and laundry.  Start preparing her for the transition by shopping for items that she may want to put in her new home.

If the new community has outings, participate in one of them and bring your mom there to have lunch with the other residents.  Try to involve your mom in all the community entertainment before her arrival.  While at your home, work on a scrapbook together of memorable photos and occasions that she will be able to bring with her.  This is always comforting to bring a little piece of family with her on the day of the move.  The waiting period can cause anxiety, so it will be important to keep her engaged during her time at home.  You want to avoid a situation where she can sit and mull over the move.

If she is interested in crafts, bead stringing or other projects are always good ideas. Making simple recipes or baking cookies for her ” new friends” will help her connect in her new community as well. In short, I would visit there often and start the transition process before she physically moves in.

  • Kim

    I used to do activities in independent & assisted senior living. I always encouraged new people to get involved before they moved in. This way they can meet the staff and the tenants and the actual move in day won’t be so difficult. Get the activity calendar and sit down with your loved one and circle the activities that look interesting. Then bring them. It takes a little more time, but it is so worth it. The most intimidating thing is to walk into the dining room when they are new. If they dined there before move in, and met others, it will be a good experience. I loved senior living. Worked in it for 11 years. I am not in a nursing home and hope to bring some of the senior living ideas into this. Nursing homes (care centers) can be vibrant, happy places as well. Good luck with your move.

  • Lou

    Good to hear from you again as you always bring clarity and conciseness to a difficult subject. This is the only site that I follow consistently because I appreciate how well it is done and contributors like yourself are an excellent enhancement. The combination of your article and reader Kim’s response was a perfect blend of experiences. My thanks to you both.

  • Darlene

    I have read your blog over the past 3 months and love it! I am im the process of transitioning my parents into assisted living. I love the articles from the woman who writes about the activities . I used her advice at all the ALF’s we toured. We based our decision on the activities and socialization. We interviewed every activities director in all assisted livings we toured. I was so glad to see her on your blog again. I look for her articles as I too wondered how to prepare my parents and keep them active until they move. Great advice and even better timing! I look forward to reading more from her. Darlene Wilkins

  • Terri Glimcher

    @ Thank you for the feedback. The transition period is definately the hardest part of moving your loved one to assisted living. Prior planning will result in a successful move. This site really covers the entire picture of assisted living. I am glad you are faithful readers!

  • bill spiers

    This is great advice. When we consult with families, we encourage them to set a long list of activities for the senior once they make the transition to their community. This way, instead of them potentially feeling vulnerable the first month, it fly’s by. The first 30 days are always the toughest.

    Before they know it, they’ve been in the community for months and are telling their families they are to busy to come over for dinner because “they have plans.”

  • Ryan Malone

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the comments. Funny you should mention the first 30 days. I bundle with my assisted living book a small booklet call Your First Month in Assisted Living. It’s written in big print and designed for the new resident to help them get acclimated. It is written from interviews I did with my mother after she first moved to assisted living.