How to Ease the Transition to Senior Living

senior living transitions

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The transition to senior living is a big one. And like all big moves it can be emotional and nerve-wracking, but we hope it’s exciting too because there’s so much to look forward to in senior living! Yes, there’s a lot to do before, during and after the move, but don’t worry. These tips can help ease the transition and help you or your loved one embrace the change.

Think Differently about Downsizing

Yes, downsizing is the arduous task of getting rid of enough stuff to be able to fit into a smaller home. But mentally, the process can help you or your loved one move forward. A life with less stuff can mean more freedom after all! There’s even science behind the idea that less is more. According to Psychology Today, letting go of excess can restore a greater sense of calm and can even be cathartic and cleansing.  Here’s how to get started.

Go room by room – To avoid getting overwhelmed take it slow and focus on one room of the house at a time. But to make sure you don’t take too long, set a timeline to complete the downsizing process.

Sort – Set aside a place where you have room to spread out, like the garage. Then sort items into Keep, Sell, Donate, Recycle or Gift piles. 

Have some fun – Asking friends and family to help can make the process more manageable. But it can also make it more fun as you reconnect and reminisce over all the times you’ve spent together.

Prepare for the Move to Senior Living

If it’s your loved one who’s transitioning, the more involved they are in planning and implementing the move, the more confidence they will have in the decision. Having a sense of ownership in the process can also help alleviate any fear over losing independence. The same can be said if you’re the one moving too, as the more you plan ahead the more confident you will feel. Check out these tips.

Plan your space – Ask the community for a copy of the floor plan or many communities also offer videos, interactive floor plans and room planners online that can help you visualize how you want to setup the space.

Start packing – So there are no surprises be sure to check on any restrictions or recommendations ahead of time, but in general you should bring:

  • Comfort items – Like a favorite blanket or throw along with sheets, a bedspread and a clock.
  • Personal care – Include personal care and grooming items as well as bath towels, hand towels and wash cloths.
  • Clothing – Pack things that are comfortable to wear and easy to get on/off as well as rubber-soled shoes to help prevent falls. Don’t forget undergarments, pajamas, socks, robe and slippers.
  • Favorites – Bring photos, keepsakes, personal items and perhaps even some favorite furniture pieces if allowed, plus favorite snacks, books and/or music to make it feel even more like home.

Try to stay positive – It’s perfectly normal to be nervous about the move, but don’t let it get the best of you. Staying positive can make it easier to cope with the stress and nerves more effectively. Focus on all there is to look forward to in senior living like worry-free living and resort-like amenities as well as the clubs, classes, outings and events to enjoy. Not to mention the peace of mind in having help available 24-hours a day.

Settling in After the Move

The first 30 days after the move to senior living are key in the transition. A change this big isn’t something most people can process overnight so you or your loved one will likely have some highs and lows. That’s OK! What’s important is that you give yourself time and not rush to judgement too quickly. These tips can help:

Personalize the space pronto – The quicker you unpack and set up the space to feel more like home the quicker it will. Again, it’s about mindset. Really let yourself or your loved one settle in. If it’s your loved one that’s moving it can also help to share personal preferences with the staff such as their favorite lotion or scent, that they love late-night snacks or the name of their favorite sports team. It’s a great way to connect and they may find some things in common.

Get involved – Making that first friend or two and/or finding activities you love are sure fire ways to start to feel at home in senior living. So, make sure to get the community’s activity calendar to see what’s available. Many communities also pair new residents with an ambassador who’s lived there awhile and can give you or your loved one the inside scoop.

Be there – To reassure your loved one, or yourself, that you’re still just as much of a part of each other’s lives it can help to preschedule times for visits and/or calls on the calendar. Encourage other friends and family members to do the same!

For more information on senior living, check out our Stay or Go Guide or schedule a virtual tour!

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