Dear Mary
Furnishing a room in Assisted Living.

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Dear Mary,

I am moving my parents into an assisted living building next month. They are allowed to furnish their suite. Any suggestions on what to bring?

Kate:

Mary BartHi Kate:

Moving is never easy and moving to assisted living is indeed very emotional. On one hand, a life-chapter is closing, perhaps selling of a family home while on the other hand, it is a time for extra help and more people to care for your parents. Think of their suite as a miniature version of their home for their needs today and expected future needs.

We moved our parents to a similar sounding assisted living building so I am happy to share what we did. Of course each building has different rules, so make sure to check with the staff about specifics for their room.

When my parents moved in, my Dad was palliative and my Mother’s Dementia was getting much worse. In planning for the future, we knew that my Mother would live at this new place as her home, once my Dad died. We planned more for her future while making my Dad feel safe and comfortable. We also knew that we did not want to move her again, so doing it well the first time was important. Room 319 is where they both lived and died.

To help make them feel as safe and comfortable as possible, we brought many things from their home and bought a few items. Here are some of the ideas that we used that may be of value to you.

  • Bring a small table, 2 chairs and a reading light.  This is nice for reading the newspaper, having a place for tea when visitors come or for a meal to be delivered if one of your parents is not feeling well enough to go to the dining room. The reading light is important because these suites often just have ceiling lights. Extra lighting makes a room brighter and safer.
  • Bring as much of their artwork and family photographs as the room will allow.  Don’t forget to decorate the bathroom too.
  • Bring a TV, a radio and their computer if they have one.
  • Bring a small cork board to post notices, phone numbers and more family pictures.
  • Bring their favorite pillows, throws, blankets, sheets and towels.
  • Bring their favorite clothes and bath products.
  • It is not likely that the room will hold a full bedroom set but bring as much as makes sense. At minimum bring the bed and a dresser. Now might be the time to consider two twin beds. It would give the option if one parent is not feeling well to sleep in their own bed.
  • The best thing that we bought for their room was a “sleeper love seat sofa bed”. It was not too large, yet it was a nice place to watch TV and it really made it feel like a little apartment. The single bed tucked inside the sofa was pulled out and used by our family many times when we needed to stay overnight and be with them. It saved us from sleeping in a chair. When we bought it, we thought it might get used once or twice. It was used MANY times and was the best investment that we made for their room. When one of my parents was particular ill, it allowed me to stay with them and watch over them.

The room set up will change as their needs and issues change. Have fun placing the furniture and helping them set up their new home. This is a new chapter for all of you. Your goal is to make them feel safe and loved.

Mary

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Caregiving Matters

Mary is a daughter. She also Chairs our charity. Mary has also held Director roles on three other boards, most recently with The Palcare Network of York Region.

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