Moving into a senior living community can be overwhelming for many seniors. But, thoughtful planning ahead of time can make the process much easier. Anne Pagnoni, Community Sales Director at Arbor Terrace of Middletown, sits down with Melissa to share helpful tips for a smooth transition.

Video Transcript

- Hello everybody and welcome into Senior Living Live. Thanks for joining us. And if you're listening via podcast, thank you so much for finding us. Well, we know that making that leap into senior living, it can be tough, even traumatic for some people, but it doesn't have to be, that's the good news. Some thoughtful planning ahead of time can help ease that transition and we've got some tips on how you can do that here today in our discussion of thoughtful transitions. Anne Pagnoni is with me today, she helps individuals with this problem every single day. Anne, how are you?

- Good, how are you?

- I am doing great. And then this is a that that gets discussed quite a bit, you know, we know that people sometimes they end up waiting until there's a crisis or an emergency before someone makes that leap into senior living, and it's all a lot of information coming at them from all different angles, and then they have the move in process, after they finally decide where to go which is a process in itself. So I'm so glad we're gonna have this conversation today and I know that you've got some great tips for our viewers. Let's talk a little bit about your background.

- Okay, well, I've been in the industry for 25 years, so I'm a little new to Arbor, but I've been around. I always say I'm one of the dinosaurs, I've kind of grown up in the industry, I've worked in independent, assisted, memory care, home care, skilled nursing, for the most part if our residents or their families or prospective residents and their families, if they have a question like I should have a pretty good idea of, you know, piece of advice to give them from that. I have to say, you know, you kind of hit it on the head too with like people are in the middle of a crisis and now all of a sudden it's like, oh my gosh, what are we gonna do? One of the things I try to bestow upon everybody is start planning sooner than you're thinking that you're definitely gonna need something. If you start to see like a few little warning signs or maybe mom or dad are slowing down or maybe they've started having falls at home, just anything like that, start, like I would rather people come in and us have that opportunity to provide a lot of education and really work with the families so that they feel empowered and that they're making the right decision at the time that they need to make that transition.

- Yeah, and we say it almost every show that we have, somebody will say it, and that is don't wait until there's an emergency, try and have those plans in place so that the individual who is making that trip into senior living and is going to be moving and uprooting their lives to somewhere, a new location, that they have a choice in the matter, they have a say in the matter, it's so important. So, that is obviously our topic of conversation today, it's a good one. Now, if someone knows that they need to move to senior living, they know they're slowing down, they know they need a little bit of help, but they don't wanna burden their children with a process of downsizing their home, what steps can somebody take to make that process a little less overwhelming?

- There's a lot of different resources that are out in the community that we can always try to connect that perspective resident with. One of the things that that I look at my position is really kind of knowing what some of those resources are, and then serving as a liaison between like our perspective residents and their families and those resources. There are so many people who do downsizing that they will actually come into your house, they will help you sort through everything that you have, select the items that you would need to bring with you while you move into a senior community, and they'll also help you get rid of everything else that you don't need. And those companies, those senior moving resources, they're great, they're so great, I've worked with some over the years who just they're so caring, they really understand how the move is difficult for them to make. So they're very understanding, very compassionate, and they'll spend that time with them to help them through all of that.

- Yeah, we actually you had a webinar a couple months ago about that topic of making that transition and downsizing. And there are a lot of great questions that were answered and like you said, a lot of great companies this is what they do every day. And the company we spoke with specifically deals with seniors, so they know you have a lot of stuff that you have compiled over the years and that you need a little bit of help trying to figure out what to do with everything. So, great tip there. Now, here's a question that we don't get asked a lot but I know that it's top of mind for a lot of individuals who somebody may be making a move to senior living, but they've been in their community or in their neighborhood or at their home for decades, right? They've been there, they've made friends, their neighbors, they go across the street, go get sugar, go drop off a pie, how do they stay connected with those same individuals if they no longer live in the neighborhood?

- Well, the first thing is that when you move to a senior living community, it becomes your home, that means you can come and go as you please, you can have people come in to visit you. So, you're allowed to leave, you can still have all of those friends. Sometimes what people will do is invite their friends over for a meal or come over and have a cup of coffee or come over and see my new apartment, come and spend the afternoon with me. I mean, in your apartments, you're still able to have refreshments, so if you had friends from the neighborhood that you wanted to have come over, there's no reason that you couldn't offer them a cup of coffee or a cookie or something like that, because you can still have all of those things. But likewise, you can still go out and visit your friends. So if somebody's having a dinner party and they wanna invite you over, you can go. So, we really try too when we have our events to really open that up to our residents and to their family and friends because it is important for the residents to maintain that connection to the community. It's not unusual for us, we take residents out to church on Sundays, so residents who have been in a particular church for how many years, they're still able to maintain that relationship. I always say, just because you move to a senior living community, doesn't mean that you're like shutting the door on everything else because that's just not the way it is. We are here to support you, we want you to maintain those other relationships and those friendships.

- Yeah, that's a great answer, really good answer. And you know, you don't really lose your independence just because you move into a senior living community and may just need a little extra help. So, great that we make sure we continue to point that out to everybody. So, let's talk a little bit about moving day, right? So somebody's already been through the process, they've found the community they wanna live in, they've done a pretty good job of downsizing, everybody wants to know, can I bring my own furniture? What can I bring? What should I bring? What does that moving day look like for most of your residents?

- So, the first thing I tell people when they start asking me, what can I bring? What should I bring? So I always tell them, make sure you pick out the things that make your house your home. And I say that because I've met so many people over the years who maybe had a grandfather clock and for them that is a true treasure. What I don't wanna see that person do is move and feel like they have to leave that, that's an item that we really wanna find a space for, we want them to be able to bring that because for them that's very important. So that's the first thing I tell people to do, and sometimes I have to tell the kids that too because I still remember I had somebody looking to move in to one of my communities and she was like, I wanna bring my fake fireplace, and her son was like, there's no way, mom, it's never gonna fit . That fake fireplace came because for her that was the thing that was so important for her, that's what gave her comfort. So that's the first thing I always tell people, I'm like, make sure you're picking out those items. You're gonna bring your own sheets, pillowcases, pillows, towels, and you bring those things because they're yours, those are your things, so we want you to be surrounded by those things that you know. And that's really important too if somebody's moving into memory care, that's very important to us. But on move in day, move in day is always tough, it's always a hard day and when I meet with people in advance with the families, I always, always tell them, I said, I want you to remember this on move in day that it's gonna be hard, and don't expect to get everything set up and then be like, this is wonderful, it doesn't work that way, move in day is hard. You're unpacking, you're getting stuff put away, but even bigger than that is that our new residents are learning a whole new routine, they're trying to figure out, wait a minute, what time's breakfast? What time's lunch? Who are my caregivers? Wait a minute, I need help with this, but who's gonna do it? And it takes time, it definitely takes a few days. So I always tell people to expect that. But I also, if people have concerns, tell them make sure you come back and let snow because this is how we work through this process together. But yeah, so move in day, it's a little hectic and we know that, we always as department managers at Arbor make it a point to go up, meet the new residents, take them on a tour, so that they can kind of re-familiarize themselves with everything. We don't wanna overwhelm them, but we do want them to feel that support because we know how important that is.

- Yeah, so in these episodes, we try to keep it real, people, we try to give you the truth and as you said, moving day isn't just put everything away, it's like when you take your child to college in the dorm they're like, okay, mom, I'm happy, get out, I'm good. That is probably not going to happen.

- No, it's not.

- Don't expect that, but definitely know that the feelings are normal and that it's going to be, it could be difficult for a very large percentage of individuals and that's totally normal. And we want you to know that so that the expectations are sort of set and if it ends up being that way and they're like, okay, kid, I'm good, then perfect, you can walk away and be thrilled, but yes, we wanna keep it real here so thank you for pointing that out. Now, you did touch on it there at the end of your answer and that is, you know, you introduce yourself, you kind of tell everybody where things are at, some of these communities can be big, they're afraid of getting lost. So what do you as a staff do to help a resident settle in in their first few weeks in their new home?

- So what we're gonna do, again, definitely we are all gonna get continue to like meet with them, introduce ourselves to them, reinforce like what the services are that each one of us provide. But in addition to that we know that someone, they may be overwhelmed and like, oh my gosh, where's the dining room? What time am I supposed to be there? So, we do have resident ambassadors that we have who are here to kind of help a new resident transition. So, a resident ambassador could always go down to one of our independent living residents, knock on the door, walk down to the dining room with them. If someone's in our assisted living or memory care, they're gonna have more from our staff. So our team is always gonna go in and they're gonna be like, Mrs. Smith, it's time for breakfast, let me walk you down. So, they're not really left to their own devices anymore than they choose to be because we're really gonna be there to help support them. And that is why too I always say those first few days are so hard because that's where you're trying to figure out, where am I supposed to be? How am I getting there? Where is it? Am I doing the right thing? And that's where it's just so important for our team to really support the new residents. I will tell you too a couple things for me that's important is just even during that whole process of working with the family and a prospective resident for moving in, we do give families a lot of paperwork and we ask them to fill this paperwork out. And it's so important, I mean, one piece of that is the resident engagement profile that really kind of goes through who this person is, what their likes were, what their dislikes are, where did they work, what did they do? So we have that and then we have a dining services profile, I mean, we get a lot of information up front. That information comes back to our leadership team and that helps us support a resident too in this new environment. So Mrs. Smith moves in, we want our engagement staff to say, she really loves to crochet, we have our crocheting club tomorrow, we're gonna go up and tell her about it, we're gonna invite her to join us.

- Yeah, I sort of like that too and I think most people who've been on vacation, they've been somewhere special, maybe it was a honeymoon, and they get a little bit of information about you, they know it's your honeymoon and so they do all these wonderful little special things for you and you feel so special and it makes the entire trip wonderful. This is what you guys are doing. So, don't skip out on the paperwork because as you said, that's you guys getting to know these individuals to make and cater to their wants, desires and their needs. And so it really is truly individual and so we wanna make sure that that care is individualized for each individual and that they feel special in their new home, you should, right?

- Yes.

- Yeah. I think that is so great. And I will say welcome to The Arbor Company, you have been a wealth of knowledge here today and we thank you so much for your personality and for all that you do for our residents with The Arbor Company.

- Thank you, it's my pleasure, I love it and I love Arbor. It's a great company, I'm glad to be here.

- And we are so glad to have you, thank you once again for sharing that 25 year knowledge of senior living with us. So, if you enjoyed watching this episode of Senior Living Live with Anne, we encourage you to head on over to our website, There you can find out more about senior living of course, hey, you can go check out that webinar we discussed about downsizing and ways that you can help your mom or your dad or even your spouse kind of streamline all of the things that you've collected over the years in your move to senior living. Well, as always, we appreciate you tuning in and watching Senior Living Live, have a great day, everybody.

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