It is easy to become overwhelmed by all the details of moving. Having decades of possessions and memories can make the process to downsize into a smaller setting difficult and emotional. Here are a few tips to help make the transition a little smoother.
Lay the groundwork
It’s important to lay a strong foundation with preparing yourself for a successful and stress-free move.
“No place will ever be as special as your old home, but we want you to feel as safe and comfortable as possible in your new home,” said Elderwood Community Relations Coordinator Courtney Gfroerer Krueger.
It’s important to see the space that’s being moved into and to take measurements to help evaluate what’s needed in the new space. “I encourage residents to visit their room a time or two prior to move-in, if possible,” said Gfroerer Krueger. “This way they can think about what items they want to bring and get more familiar with their surroundings. We’ll often do a walk through to demonstrate how to access areas such as the dining room or nurses’ station.”
In assisted living facilities rooms can vary in size, but can typically accommodate a queen bed, a recliner or loveseat and a desk and bookshelf, depending on how they arrange the room. “While we do provide furniture, they are more than welcome to bring anything they’d prefer to use from home – including bed linens and towels,” said Gfroerer Krueger. “It can be comforting to have these items from home. If someone is coming from a home they’ve lived in for a very long time, the move can be extra difficult. I often encourage families to try their best to re-create a room or area of their home. Have the furniture in the same set-up, bring the same photos and plants.”
If families need help before or during the moving process, they can enlist the help of a Senior Move Manager. Senior Move Managers are professionals certified by the National Association of Senior Move Managers who specialize in assisting older adults and their families with the emotional and physical aspects of relocation or aging in place. “Moving is one of the top five stressors for adults, said Ann Marie Klosko, owner of Elder Transition Consulting LLC. “Picture being in your 70s and having to make a decision about “right sizing,” knowing your children are busy with work and their children, and you are looking at your years of accumulation thinking what am I going to do with all of this stuff?”
A Senior Move Manager can provide unbiased support during the planning of and physical move including the use of additional outside resources. Here are a few areas where a Senior Move Manager can lend their expertise:
- Measuring furniture and developing a plan for ensuring personal items fit within the new space.
- Arranging for the profitable disposal of unwanted items through auction, estate sales, donations or consignment.
- Interviewing, scheduling and overseeing movers, as well as packing and unpacking personal items.
- Managing the search and selection of a realtor to prepare the home for sale.
Organizing before the move
Keeping organized and taking the moving process step-by-step can help minimize worry. Here are some organizational pointers that Klosko offers families who are transitioning into assisted living:
Clearly mark boxes you are packing – Take an inventory of the items you are packing and bringing with you. As you pack up a box write what the contents are on the outside of the box. This will make it easier to find your belongings and identify the room they are assigned to.
Start small and give yourself time – The best way to start packing is to begin with a room that has little attachment like a linen closet or laundry room. This will help keep emotions balanced and will be a great starting point to pack. It’s important to also allow some time as you move through rooms to reminisce and bond with your family. Use this time to talk about your personal history and the reason why those items have meaning to you.
Eliminate belongings in rooms you won’t have in your new living space – There will be items in your home that you love and cherish and those that you most likely won’t need any more like pots, pans and dishes since assisted living facilities have dining options.
Reduce collections creatively – Pick a couple of meaningful collectibles to keep and take photographs of those items you would like to remember.
Distribute legacy items now – It can be difficult to decide what family or friends you’d like to inherit meaningful family heirlooms. Offering up family legacy items early will allow you to make the decision as to who you give those items to without causing any family distress.
Safety is important when moving into an assisted living facility. There are items that might need to be avoided, which can vary by facility and are usually based on regulations. Items that might not be allowed include microwaves, space heaters, coffee makers, candles, hair dryers and drapes or curtains that aren’t flame retardant. Most assisted living facilities do allow for residents to have a small mini fridge for convenience. “We want residents to feel at home, but they also need to be as safe as possible,” said Gfroerer Krueger. “For example, area rugs aren’t allowed, but a resident can have a small rug in the bathroom outside of the shower if it has a rubber backing on it. “
Prior to moving in, assisted living facilities require furniture to be inspected by a pest control company to ensure there are no bed bugs or pests being brought into the facility.
Pets make great companions for seniors; however, many senior living facilities do not allow pets, so it’s important to communicate with the facility about their policies upfront. Some facilities do offer the option to have a pet visit the facility, if they are up to date with vaccinations. In the event pets are not allowed, it’s important to think of options like a family member or friend who can take over the care of the family pet.
Moving your aging loved one out of their home can be an overwhelming and emotional time. However, the right planning and preparation can help to make the process easier and make your loved one feel more comfortable.