How to Successfully Transition to Long-Term Care

Posted on: May 2, 2023

If your loved one is preparing to transition to long-term care, you might be feeling anxious or lost. Moving to a long-term care community is a significant life event, and it’s normal to experience many different emotions.

Fortunately, there are ways you can help make the transition more successful for your loved one. Find tips and guidance on moving to long-term care in this blog curated by Otterbein SeniorLife.

How to Know When Long-Term Care Is Necessary

Long-term care, also referred to as skilled nursing care, is a place for people who need help with activities of daily living and require professional medical care 24 hours a day. Here are some common signs that long-term care may be necessary:

1. Inability to Manage Responsibilities 

Older adults who can no longer manage responsibilities like paying bills, getting to appointments, or keeping up with chores may benefit from additional care services.

2. Declining Physical Health and Abilities 

Seniors who have trouble with mobility and find bathing, grooming, and feeding themselves too challenging to do on their own might want to consider personalized care provided in a long-term care community.

3. Loneliness and Social Isolation 

Is your loved one often isolated due to relying on others to drive them places? Are they showing signs of depression or loneliness? Often, seniors spend much of their time alone, which can lead to cognitive decline, mental health challenges, and a change in physical abilities. Long-term care communities offer life-enriching activities, opportunities to meet new friends, and a compassionate interdisciplinary team of staff. 

Related: Get my free guide on long-term care >>

How Can I Talk to My Loved One About Long-Term Care?

Once you have decided that long-term care is the best option for your loved one, set aside time to prepare for the conversation. Keep the following in mind before you talk to your loved one:

  • Stay calm and positive during your conversation.
  • Be prepared for your loved one to express different emotions. Remind them that it’s OK to feel whatever they are feeling.
  • Don’t force the issue unless it’s an immediate need. Try to plan ahead for several short conversations.
  • Ask for their feedback, including their fears, concerns, and questions about long-term care.
  • Involve them in the decision-making process. Bring your loved one on community tours and find out what’s important to them.
  • Be honest. Your feelings are valid too. It’s OK to share that you’re concerned about your loved one’s health and well-being. In fact, this might help bring you closer together.

Related: Learn more ways to talk to your loved one about long-term care >>

Ways to Make the Transition to Long-Term Care Easier

Continue to be there for your loved one as they transition to long-term care. Your presence and support will help reassure and encourage your loved one. Consider the following ways you can make the transition to long-term care easier for your loved one:

1. Be Patient 

Show empathy and patience as your loved one adjusts to a new routine, in a new place, with new people. They’ll likely go through many emotions in the process, and it’s important to be kind and considerate of your loved one’s feelings. 

2. Downsize and Decorate 

Help your loved one downsize their belongings and decide what invaluable keepsakes and items they should take with them. Prioritize personalizing and decorating your loved one’s new room or apartment so they feel comfortable and are surrounded by familiar things. 

3. Encourage Your Loved One to Get Involved

Encourage your loved one to choose activities that interest them and participate when they feel comfortable. Meeting new friends who likely understand what your loved one is going through can often make the transition easier. 

4. Build Relationships with the Staff 

Work on building relationships with the team that cares for your loved one. Establishing a strong rapport and trust is beneficial as questions and concerns regarding your loved one’s care and well-being arise. 

5. Stay Involved in Your Loved One’s Plan of Care 

Attend care plan meetings and remain involved in their plan of care. Serve as an advocate for your loved one, and don’t be afraid to speak up on their behalf. Invite your loved one to participate in all care plan meetings so they feel empowered to make decisions and set goals.

6. Create a New Routine With Your Loved One  

Talk to your loved one about creating a routine where you regularly visit, call, or connect in some way. You can set up a time each week to join your loved one for dinner, or you may decide you’ll call every morning for a quick check-in. 

Interested in Additional Resources on Long-Term Care?

Download our free guide to Finding and Choosing Long-Term Care if you want more information. This guide includes details on the following topics:

  • Signs your loved one needs long-term care
  • Conversation tips for talking to your loved one about long-term care
  • Cost information for long-term care
  • Ways to find the right community for your loved one

Get My Free Long-Term Care Guide