Many people don’t like moving, or—to better phrase it—just about everyone doesn’t like moving. It’s an overwhelming and intimidating process, full of things that most people dislike: organizing, cleaning, packing, unpacking, and change.
Moving can be even more intimidating when you’re moving out of a beloved home and into somewhere new and unknown, like an assisted living community. Here at Franklin Park, one of the things we regularly hear from our potential residents’ family members is, “How do I move my parents into assisted living?” It’s a complicated question with many different ways to look at it—both emotionally and logistically. We understand that it is an emotional time for both parent and child as they work together to start a new life chapter.
Franklin Park Senior Living, with luxury independent and assisted living communities throughout San Antonio, Texas, knows that it can be challenging, in more ways than one, to move out of a cherished, long-term home and into an assisted living community. We’re sharing some tips on how to make this transition easier and more meaningful for both you and your parent or family member.
Before the Move
1. Prepare Them (and Yourself) Emotionally
Often, the most challenging part about making the transition from home to senior living is the decision itself. If you and your parent(s) have already determined that moving to an assisted living community is the best option, toured communities, and found a good fit, you’re already over several hurdles.
Still, that doesn’t make the transition itself any more manageable. You’ll have to remind your family member that things will be different—not necessarily bad—but different. They will no longer live in their own house, but they will also no longer need to worry about maintenance. They will have to say goodbye to their neighbors, but they will make many new friends. They will have to quit their gym, but they’ll have access to a new fitness center in their community. Their life will change in many ways, but in many, it will stay the same (or improve!).
You’ll also have to prepare yourself for the change, as well. Watching your family member begin to require more assistance can already be difficult, but it can be even more challenging combined with other changes, like the selling of your childhood home or your family moving further away from you. In these situations, it can help to remind yourself that this is ultimately the best thing for your parent.
During the Move
2. Pack Deliberately and Plan Ahead
Before move-in day even arrives, it’s best to have a rough plan of how you want the day to go. Is there a specific time you need to be at the community? If so, work backward, so you have plenty of time to pack all that you need to. Also, make sure you have all your supplies ready before-hand. These can include items like boxes or plastic bins, bubble wrap, packing tape (if you want to be even more organized, you can use different colored tape for each room), permanent markers, and anything else you might need. Having this all prepared ahead of time can prevent irritating last-minute trips to the store.
While packing, it can be easy to get overwhelmed, so take a systematic approach to avoid confusion and mess. A few days or even weeks before the official move, help your parent or family member focus on rooms and items they know they won’t need to use before moving—like guest rooms, linen closets, or miscellaneous kitchen items. As the move gets closer, they can begin to pack more frequently used items. Ensure that if there’s anything your parent might need to access quickly, like toiletries, medications, or shoes, they are packed in a separate bag that they can keep with them during the move.
As with any move, ensure that everything is packed tightly, breakables are protected, and boxes are correctly labeled.
3. Donate Items
While many assisted living communities like Franklin Park provide spacious private apartments, it won’t quite be the same as the three or four-bedroom house that your family member might be used to. Because of this, most moves to senior living communities will require a significant amount of downsizing. Ideally, this should be done before the move so that items to be given away don’t get mixed in with items to be packed.
To get rid of items that your parent cannot bring with them, first look at all the things that may have sentimental value. Items like artwork, jewelry, or furniture can be passed on to other family members, including yourself, who may get more use or pleasure out of these heirlooms. You can also develop creative ways to repurpose these heirlooms—for example, turning old handkerchiefs or linens into a quilt or pillow, turning vintage doilies or platters into unique wall decor, or repurposing old costume jewelry into a bookmark. Not only does this allow you to keep family heirloom items, but it’s also a great way to surprise your parent with a sentimental gift for their new home.
For all the remaining items, including old clothes, gently used appliances, and unneeded art and decor, you can donate them to a worthy cause. You can always find national stores like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, but another option is to donate somewhere on a smaller scale, like the local SPCA, Women’s Center, or local churches.
4. Enlist Help
Moving is a long and arduous process, and if you’re able to, we recommend hiring professionals. While loading boxes and hauling heavy furniture can be time-consuming and potentially dangerous for your older parents, professional movers can do it efficiently and safely. If a moving company is not in their budget, there are also several less expensive alternatives. Some companies offer labor services for a cheaper fee, or you can look online to find local labor for hire or college students looking to make some extra money.
You can also ask friends and family to help you and your parent(s) for a couple of hours. The more people willing to help, the faster the move can be completed. Plus, you can even turn it into a fun day! You can reminisce on memories you all have shared in the house, play music, order lunch, and just spend time together before your parent settles into their new home.
5. Change Address and Forward Mail
In all the hustle and bustle of packing, you can sometimes forget other vital details that need to be completed. Remember to have your parent’s address changed with any services or statements they receive, such as banking, credit cards, magazine subscriptions, or Amazon. Similarly, remember to cancel services they will no longer need, like electric, water, cable, and waste management.
To catch any mail you may have forgotten to change, be sure to contact USPS and set up mail forwarding. This is a free service that is valid for six months and can be configured online or at your local post office.
After the Move
6. Stay Connected
The packing, loading, cleaning, and unpacking is done…now what? Even if your parent or family member was ready, and even excited, for the move to assisted living, it doesn’t mean the transition will be easy. It can take a while for your parent to settle in and adjust to their new life, and there can be a lot of emotions involved: apprehension, loneliness, sadness, even overstimulation.
During this time, it’s necessary to give your parent space while also letting them know that you’re only a phone or video call away.
It’s also important to keep in touch with the staff at the assisted living community. They can potentially give you a more realistic understanding of how your parent is faring and let you know about any specific care plans or activities.
Making the Move
Moving your parent or older family member into an assisted living community can be difficult for many reasons. In addition to the actual packing and moving, you have to deal with an emotional transition, as well. By having a thorough and scheduled moving plan in place, you can spend less time worrying about boxes and packing and more time focusing on your parent’s feelings and reactions to this significant change. Through it all, you can ensure them that this is ultimately the best decision for them, and before they know it, they will be happy, thriving, and comfortable in their new home.
Franklin Park Senior Living offers independent living, assisted living, and memory care services. We assist seniors in moving into our San Antonio communities daily and are always here to help. Use us as a resource to answer any questions that may arrive as you begin the moving process; our team is full of suggestions and recommendations. Contact us today!
Updated on March 1, 2021