“Home is where the heart is” rings true for many of us. However, we can still become attached to physical places and spaces that hold memories and other sentimental items and feelings. This can make the process of moving from one home to a new one a big undertaking, especially if your senior parent has lived in the same house for years or even decades. Not to mention, it often takes time for parents to adjust to the idea of moving. If your senior parent is preparing to make the move to a senior care facility, there are several proven tips to make the process as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
#1 Stay Positive with a Plan
Regardless of age, moving to a senior care facility has the potential to be a stressful and emotionally taxing experience on both you and your senior parent. To start, it’s important to discuss well in advance the scenario of possibly moving, and bring up the topic in a respectful and understanding manner.
As a parent prepares to make a lifestyle change and let go of possessions they may have had for years, they may need to get their mind off the more sorrowful aspects. One way to support them is to infuse the process with positive commentary and build excitement for their new chapter of life. As you go through the sorting process, bring up some of the elements of your parent’s new living space that they can look forward to. Perhaps it’s the weekly bridge game offered by the community or the chef-prepared meals that they will be able to enjoy on a daily basis. Additionally, if you haven’t already, schedule a tour for your parent to see the community they are moving to so they can get a full sense of the new space, people, activities, and more.
#2 Pare Down with a Sorting System
Your parent may have accumulated various items that they no longer need, so encourage them to be honest about what they will realistically use in the future, and therefore need to keep. No matter how many possessions your senior parent has, it’s important to make this process as smooth as possible–which is why we suggest tackling one room at a time.
As you go through each room, divide items up into three categories: keep, donate, or pass down. If something is more sentimental and they don’t want to get rid of it, perhaps opt to put it in a storage unit or even pass it down to a child or grandchild to make use of it. Anything they don’t keep will ideally be donated to a local Goodwill or Salvation Army, though some items may just need to be tossed in the trash if it won’t come in handy to anyone else (e.g. broken or outdated items.)
#3 Request a Floor Plan
It’s often helpful to get a clear sense of your mom or dad’s new space–from the measurements to the layout. Requesting a floor plan from the retirement community in advance will help you determine which furniture pieces will work and how they may best be arranged in the space.
In order to help your mother or father feel more at home in their new space once they move in, document their previous living space so that you remember how they had set up their furniture and decorative items. This way, you will know how to arrange their items in their new space. This will help them feel more familiar and comfortable in the new space.
#4 Hire Help
/Moving not only requires emotional investment–the physical requirements will most likely be more than what you and senior parent are capable of. Friends and family can be extremely helpful, but depending on how many things your senior parent owns, it’s worth looking into professionals that specifically help with senior downsizing and moving processes. You can locate such professionals using The National Association of Senior Move Managers.
#5 Set the Move Date
Often, people wait to set a date until their parent is ready to make the move only to find the decision-making process keeps getting pushed back. Setting a firm move-in date in advance not only enables your parent to have time to mentally prepare, but also helps you support them in the process with less stress.
Throughout the whole moving process, the two most important things to keep in mind are to stay positive and to take things a step at a time. Even after the big move, it’s important to continue providing your parent with support. Try to frequently check in with them to see how they are settling in and encourage them to explore their new community and meet new neighbors.