Making a move at any age can be stressful. And, if you’ve been in your home for 40 – 50 years, the process of downsizing – or rightsizing – and relocating to a new home can be overwhelming.
Helping older adults and their families through the daunting process of transitioning to a new residence is what experienced senior move managers excel at doing. Here are six tips to ensure the transition goes smoothly.
The 3 Cs: Communicate, Choice, Consideration
Seniors are often emotionally invested in the home they’re leaving and there may be sadness and apprehension about the move. While conversations about moving out of the home they’ve loved and into assisted living can be tough, it’s important to give them time to discuss their feelings and talk about why the move is happening and where they’ll be living.
A frequent cause of distress centers on perceived loss of control, so giving your loved ones as much choice as possible will help make the transition smoother.
Make a Plan
Having a plan in place provides reassurance and ease for you and your loved ones.
Ask for the square footage and floor plan of their new home to begin thinking about space issues. Create a visual floor plan on graph paper with cut outs for furniture; select pieces of furniture that will fit comfortably into the new home, recognizing that new furniture may be needed. You can make it easier for them to image their new home by visiting the space together and taking measurements.
Importantly, let your loved ones make the final decision – such as which furniture to keep or buy and how to arrange the pieces.
Starting Early Eliminates Major Disruption
It’s never too early to begin the downsizing process, particularly if it’s a home that’s been lived in for half a century.
Focus first on the more challenging spaces such as the attic, basement, garage, and even the file cabinets. Move on to those things that aren’t used daily such as guest rooms or dishes used only for special occasions. If all of these items are going to the new home, slowly unpacking them will get your parents used to the new place before they live there permanently.
Beginning the process early means that you’ll end the process happy!
Generosity Wins the Game
Most likely, your loved ones won’t take all of their belongings to their new home because of space issues. Ask them to identify possessions that cannot be replaced or those they definitely don’t want to discard.
If a cherished possession won’t fit in their new place, ask if they would like to ‘gift’ their treasurers to special individuals in their life such as family, favorite neighbors, an organization, or their church or synagogue. Items that don’t hold particular sentimental value can be donated to non-profits.
Begin Enjoying the New Community
Many residents moving into assisted living are active and independent. Suggest your loved ones begin enjoying the benefits of their new home early by participating in shuttle bus trips or community events, joining in a card game or even sharing a meal in their new dining room. Most communities make daily living easy by offering assistance and entertainment; taking advantage of these early on will make them feel at home more quickly.
Once They’re Settled In
It’s important your loved ones feel welcome and comfortable, so visiting shows you support their move and helps create a smooth transition. Doing so is easy because most communities allow guests to participate in meals and activities with their loved ones.