Moving to a senior living community is often an emotional decision for seniors, which means moving day can be difficult for both the senior and their families. Like any of life’s big changes though, there are ways to make the big day a wonderful new beginning, rather than a sorrowful ending. To do it right, planning ahead for every detail will go a long way toward making the transition smooth, almost effortless, and much less stressful. Follow these suggestions for ways to prepare for senior living and make moving day and the transition easier for everyone.
Don’t downsize, economize!
More often than not, seniors moving to senior living will be transitioning to a smaller home, so they will need to limit what they take. Rather than use the word “downsize” with its negative connotation, try calling it “economizing” right from the start. Since this is often an emotional undertaking, it’s best done well in advance of the moving day to let time heal any feelings of loss. Keep in mind that some belongings have special significance to seniors and that their wishes should be fulfilled whenever possible.
To begin, compare spaces — new and old — to establish what large items will not fit or be needed. Consider:
Make a list with columns for what will go with the senior, what won’t and what they want to do with what stays behind. Many seniors prefer to offer items in good condition to family and friends first. Anything left untaken can then be offered for sale, donated to local charities, or thrown away. By moving only what is most desired and essential, moving day will be less fraught with problems and emotions.
As this process takes place, it’s also a good time to begin decluttering and sorting essential documents that will be making the move from those that can be shredded or tossed. For more tips on move preparation, check out the seniorhousingnet.com blog, “6 Tips for Helping a Senior Prepare for a Move.”
Sweat the small stuff
Each room in a senior’s home holds memories and memorabilia that may be important only to them. That’s why a room-to-room assessment with the senior can make choosing smaller items much easier for everyone. For example, a bedroom may hold an item like a mirror, artwork or lamp that is significant because it was a gift or is a family heirloom. By letting the senior choose the smaller possessions they want to keep, they will realize their desires matter and that they are being respected. Overall, a little more time spent sorting through the small stuff can pay big dividends when it comes to a senior’s happiness on and after moving day.
Enlist help for moving day
After deciding what stays and what goes, the next step is to organize family and friends for moving day. The old saying, “Many hands make light work” is applicable to any moving day, but especially to ensure a senior’s moving day is managed with smiles and encouragement.
For seniors who have limited help on hand, a Senior Move Manager might be a good resource to consider. These are companies accredited by the National Association of Senior & Specialty Move Managers with staff who are trained and experienced in planning and moving seniors safely and ethically. To locate a Senior Move Manager, try the NASSMM’s search site.
Cover all bases to ensure a seamless move-in
To ensure a smooth move, be sure to stay in close contact with the senior living community so they are aware of when the senior will arrive. Ask about move-in day processes and procedures and what help is available onsite. It’s also a good idea to tour the new senior living space the day before the move to make sure it’s ready to move into and worry-free for the senior.
To make it easier for the senior, especially if moving to assisted living or memory care, plan ahead to leave the loading and moving to others and go on ahead to the community with the senior. Once there, they can enjoy a meal or other event together, get better acclimated with their new accommodations, or take a walk around the grounds while they wait for their possessions to arrive. This can help a senior transition more easily and meet new friends while still in the company of loved ones.
For seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the first day can be especially difficult for them and for their families. When this is the case, memory care staff should be available to help smooth the way, welcome the senior, and become a familiar face. When it’s time for family to go, staff can also help distract the senior to make the parting less confusing or painful. For more information, the Mayo Clinic article, “Alzheimer’s: Smoothing the transition on moving day,” can help.