How to help make the transition to senior living

Downsizing & Moving

Dorothy said it best when she clicked her heels three times and repeated, “There’s no place like home.” In fact, there are plenty of references in popular literature about our home - it’s our castle, a shelter from the storm, the place where we hang our hat. There’s no denying a solid emotional relationship is formed within the walls of our homes.

Imagine, then, your mother or father, who lived in the same home for many years, potentially even decades, and raised their family within those walls. Notches on the wall indicate years of growth and memories. Now, mom is older and getting around the house is difficult. Perhaps it’s not even the physical limitations she’s experiencing, but emotional ones such as feeling isolated without friends to keep her company.

The time has come to discuss moving to a community where she will be surrounded by other people of the same age and interests, and where she can focus on what she enjoys rather than keeping up with the house chores and maintenance. This conversation can often times be emotional and daunting. Where do you begin?

Jay Leo, chief operating office of The Springs Living says this is a normal part of the process. “Having the discussion is the first step,” explains Leo. “Typically, a good time to have this discussion is after a particularly challenging day for your mother. For example, on a day when she feels overwhelmed with the home or the responsibilities. This is a good moment to step back and say, what if we could make things easier for you.”

Leo goes on to explain that there are also many services who help older people downsize, organize their homes and ready them for a sale. “The main point is to know that you and your mother are not alone,” continues Leo. “Many people have made this type of move and while it can seem overwhelming at first, the long-term benefit of a move like this ultimately outweighs any of the concerns you may have had previously.”

In order to help Mom or Dad make the transition to senior living, these seven tips can foster a healthy discussion and better outcomes for both of you:

  • Know your options. Research local retirement communities and take tours, talk to residents and caregivers about the community and find the location that feels right for you.
  • Research companies who can help you downsize, organize and sell items prior to packing up the house. This will help relieve significant stress.
  • Find a realtor you trust to work with you on selling the home. Often times, realtors can also help you find an auction service for larger home furnishings.
  • Make it a family affair. Get everyone involved in packing up the home and helping on moving day.
  • Keep the mood light. Enjoy reminiscing about your time in the home but focus more on the fact that family and home is in your heart, not just within the walls, and will come with you wherever you go.
  • Fill your mom’s new home with pictures and mementos before she arrives and help her decorate to make it really feel like home.
  • Make plans for her to stay busy once she’s moved in and meet new people. At The Springs Living, there are plenty of opportunities to meet new neighbors and join activities. Before long, she will be so busy with her day-to-day activities; she might have to pencil YOU in!

Moving into a retirement community can be stressful, from downsizing and the emotional ties to a former home, as well as the physical demands of sorting and packing. Developing a plan based on these tips will help make the experience more enjoyable for everyone involved. Your loved one will feel empowered when they know what to expect, and this, in turn, will help pave the way to a beautiful next chapter in the story of “home.”