Helping a family member or loved one make the transition to an independent living or assisted living facility, or to a nursing home, can be both emotional and overwhelming. When faced with this new stage in life, there are worries that vary from complex – finding, applying and paying for an appropriate residence – to seemingly simple things that make a big difference to the individual – such as making sure that their personal possessions are safe and identifiable.
The first important thing to remember is that the place will be their new home. If the individual has memory issues or dementia, it can be very traumatic to be separated from much loved objects and surroundings.
Check to see whether the new home can accommodate some cherished personal objects, or even pieces of small furniture, etc. If the family member is sharing a room, this may not be possible but there will always be a place for personal items such as clothing, shoes, slippers, and toiletries, as well as those special unique items which will bring comfort: Perhaps a beloved blanket or shawl, a photograph of grandchildren, or special and meaningful ornaments.
Reassuring seniors that they will not lose their possessions
It is a great kindness to the individual to help them make decisions about what to take with them. At this point, it is even more helpful to label all the personal possessions. Once an individual arrives at a new home, all these items will be unpacked and put away, allowing the resident to settle in and get used to their new surroundings. Until they have adjusted to the new routine, things can be quite confusing. Appropriately customized labels on his or her possessions are a source of security to your loved one.
A few days after arrival, the routine of regular laundry will begin. Once the process starts, there is a huge risk for loss unless items are clearly labeled. Laundry services may be dealing with 100 or more residents and will not be able to keep track of which item belongs to which resident unless it can be quickly and easily identified.
Labels are the difference between losing and finding valued items
Unmarked clothing and shoes are often put into a large “Lost and Found” area so that visiting families can go through items to try and identify their belongings. This can sometimes mean that valuable clothing is actually mistakenly taken by another family, or even another resident who may have memory issues.
Although some facilities will have a labeling service, the majority of labeling will usually take place at home before the move, so that everything can be packed up with a label attached to it. It’s also important to remember to label clothes, shoes and jackets that are going to be worn on move-in day. (It might also be a good idea to photograph groups of items that are being packed, just in case there is a need to go hunting for missing items at some point.)
It is both helpful and reassuring to understand and discuss laundry procedures with any facility. They will appreciate any assistance that a family is willing to give to make their job easier, with the knowledge that it will also reduce any anxiety that comes with lost belongings.
Choosing the label type that works best for you
Luckily there are many simple and convenient ways to label virtually everything that will be moved into a facility.
- Iron-on Clothing labels: Often printed in easy-to-read and waterproof ink, and quick to apply for anyone handy with an iron. These are best applied to smooth fabrics, such as cotton shirts and pants. “Tagless” iron-on labels are ideal for anyone with sensitive skin.
- Sewing labels: These can often look more elegant than a printed label, and are recommended for anything with a “fuzzy” finish, such as knitted or fleece items. Applied with a few quick stitches, they can also be removed easily.
- Snap-on clothing tags: Labeling clothes and linens can be a time-consuming chore but snap-on clothing tags apply in seconds and there is no need for sewing or ironing. This labeling system is also portable – label items while visiting.
- Laundry marker packages: Don’t have time to decide what your labels need to say? Perhaps your loved one moves rooms frequently? A laundry marker package comes with blank iron-on labels and/or stick on labels, giving you the flexibility to write what you like on each label. Make sure they are easily readable as frequent laundry is a hallmark of a good senior living facility
- Stick-on clothing labels: Another solution for someone who is not able to iron or sew on labels. Simply press these labels onto the satin care tags of any clothing or linens.
- Waterproof stick-on labels: Use stick on labels to keep track of any special toiletries, eyeglass cases, photo frames, walkers, hairbrushes, books, and more.
Keeping track of a host of personal items will be much easier and less stressful if all belongings are clearly labeled. With the wide range of labeling options these days, there is an option to suit every taste and skill level. Plan ahead and keep the loss of precious items to a minimum!