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Tips for Making the Move to a Senior Living Community

Making the decision to move into a retirement community – whatever the level of care – can be difficult. In many instances, one of the major hurdles is the actual moving process itself and the stress it can put on older adults. Tough decisions such as how to go about selling your house or how to downsize need to be made, and many older adults are simply not prepared for these kinds of tough choices.
As such, The Legacy Senior Communities wants to share some tips for making the move easier, suggest things to think about when you have to downsize, as well as describe some of the services that The Legacy Willow Bend offers new residents who are moving into the community.
Tip one – Get some help
Many older adults haven’t moved in 20 or 30 years or even longer. Moving is not only physically taxing, it is also an emotionally exhausting chore. Oftentimes the decisions that surround planning and executing a move can seem too overwhelming to handle alone. At the very least, you need someone to act as a sounding board for your moving strategy. That’s why you need help.
We recommend encouraging siblings or other close family members to take a few days off of work to help. Even children and younger members of the family can participate. Surrounding your senior parents with loved ones who are supportive and encouraging can help ease the emotional stress of moving as well.
It’s very important to encourage the person who’s moving to actively participate in decisions. For example, adult children often want to throw away old furniture and buy newer, more modern pieces for their parents’ new residence, but the parents should be able to pick what they take with them. Let them take their own furniture if they want to, they know what will make them most comfortable in their new home, and sentimental value often outweighs aesthetics.
Tip two – Don’t rush
Seniors can be emotionally vested in the home they’re leaving, and it’s expected that there will be sadness and apprehension about the move. It can be a tough conversation to have with your aging parent, but give your loved one time to accept the change and keep the conversation focused on the benefits of the new location in order to make the transition go smoothly.
One of the most common causes of distress when moving a senior is the perceived loss of control, so it’s critical to give your loved one as much choice as possible during the moving process.
Tip three – Bring in outside help
At The Legacy Willow Bend, our sales team starts the process of helping our residents make a smooth transition into the community by providing them with a myriad of resources. This includes realtors in the area who are familiar with the current housing market and senior-move managers who can assist with arranging estate sales, obtaining appraisals for valuables, suggesting organizations that will pick-up items for donations, space-planning in the new residence, packing, moving, and even getting settled into the new home. We have a directory of organizations which are experts in these fields, and as we determine each individual’s needs, we can provide the contact information for these various services.
There is a relocation company in almost every major city, often within real estate firms that can help with all the logistics: from preparing your home for sale (including making repairs and landscaping) to packing up and moving – even property appraisals and investing the equity from the sale of your home. When moving day comes, they’ll even be there to help you move in to your senior living community and arrange everything just like you want it.
Tip four – You better prepare for downsizing
You will be downsizing, and you just won’t have room for everything you own. Start by choosing only the non-negotiable items you must have. These are things like your favorite mementos that cannot be replaced. You will quickly see how much “baggage” you can really live without. Don’t keep anything without envisioning how it will fit into your new living space. Objects too valuable to throw away can be given to Goodwill for a tax write-off or sold at an estate sale.
Go through the house item by item with your support team. You can categorize objects to make the process easier: items to be moved, keepsakes to be left with family, items to be sold or donated, and items to be thrown out. Remember to honor the emotional attachment to personal belongings and allow your senior parent to reminisce as you help sort out their possessions. Remember, these are not just things you’re moving – they’re memories.
Getting settled in
As you settle into your new space at the community, it may help to arrange furniture and decorations in a manner that is similar to how things were set up at home. This will help make it easier to adjust to a new place.
At The Legacy Willow Bend, we start the transition process the day someone moves in by introducing them to our resident “ambassadors” who encourage them to get involved in the various activities and help them get acquainted with the lifestyle. Our lifestyle director also makes contact with our new residents within their first few days of moving in to invite them to our New Resident Orientation, which gives an introduction to all of the services and amenities.
We also have a “Move-in Coordinator” on staff who guides our new residents and their family members through the logistics of getting established in their new home – assisting with personalization changes they may want to make to the residence, scheduling moving days and times, and coordinating the move-in process with both the new resident and The Legacy staff.
Throughout the entire process, maintaining a positive attitude is essential. Life at a community will be what you make of it, so keeping positive thoughts and an open mind goes a long way. Amenities and housing options aside, what’s most important is that it IS a community. There’s always someone available if you want to enjoy some fun or simply need a lift. You can be alone if you prefer, but you never have to feel alone.
Transitioning from home to a community is a major life change, but keeping these tips in mind can help reduce the stress of a move and ensure that adults can enjoy this exciting new time in their lives to the fullest.