Your loved one has found the ideal senior living community that enables them to live a maintenance-free life with the exact level of support they need. They’ve found a comfortable floor plan that fits their lifestyle. Next is moving day, but there’s a lot of planning, preparation, and packing to do beforehand.
Moving can be challenging for anyone, but there are additional things to consider when seniors are moving into senior living. Here’s how you can make the move go as smoothly as possible.
Moving into Senior Living: Tips for an Efficient Move
Moving to a senior living community can involve a lot of emotions. To make the transition as smooth as possible, focus on all the positives of the community. For example, there may be live concerts, exercise classes, and, most importantly, a tight-knit community of residents and caring staff members.
Focusing on the numerous positives of moving into senior living will help empower your loved one and provide the necessary motivation to tackle the challenges of moving. Let’s take a look at how to have a smooth, positive moving experience.
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1. Start planning.
Starting the process early will help reduce stress for everyone involved in the move, especially your loved one. Once you have the move-in date on the calendar, create a plan for tasks that you and your loved one need to address before that day and when those tasks will happen.
Creating a to-do checklist with your loved one will help them feel involved and visualize what still needs to be done before their move-in date. It’s tempting to take over planning details, but involve your loved one in the entire process as much as they are physically and emotionally able. This ensures they’re an active participant and helps them feel more in control of their upcoming move.
Reduce transition stress by planning a few visits to the new community. This gives your loved one an opportunity to see the amenities they'll soon have access to and meet staff members and other residents they’ll be interacting with on a daily basis. Learning a few faces will help moving day feel less overwhelming by establishing the community as a comfortable environment.
It’s critical to stay in contact with your loved one’s senior living community prior to and on moving day. It will help with moving day preparations, and if there are any last-minute changes, an open line of communication will help prevent last-minute work and stress.
2. Rightsize possessions.
It’s natural to acquire more things as we age, so once you’ve set a plan for the transition period before the move, it’s time to rightsize possessions. You must do this step before starting the packing process to purposefully work on one task at a time and fully understand how to properly allocate possessions.
To avoid becoming overwhelmed, tackle one room at a time, starting with the rooms that your loved one uses the most, such as the kitchen or living room. When rightsizing possessions with your loved one, help them determine what’s most important, somewhat important, and least important.
Begin with the largest items because these will take up the most space in the new senior living community floor plan. Once you and your loved one determine which large items are necessary for their new apartment, you’ll have an idea of how much space remains for other items. The least important items may be easily downsized and donated, sold, or tossed.
3. Find a moving crew.
After you and your loved one have finished rightsizing possessions and have a visual of what items are moving into senior living, determine what type of crew you need for moving day. Start by asking the community for a list of moving vendors who are familiar with moving into senior living, then reach out to friends or family for recommendations. When you’re considering your moving crew, it’s important to think about what items are being moved, especially large furniture pieces—it may be smart to hire movers for the heavy lifting.
4. Pack your loved one’s possessions.
Once you’ve figured out how your loved one's items will be delivered to the community, you can start packing. You can either hire vendors to pack and organize your loved one’s possessions, or you and other family members can assist with the physical act of packing. Because moving to a senior living community has additional complexities, if you choose to hire vendors to help with packing, make sure they have experience working with seniors.
If possible, start this process in the few weeks to a month or two before the move-in date to reduce stress, avoid a rush, and prevent burnout. Ask about respite suites in the community so your loved one has a place to stay while their items are moved into their actual apartment. If respite suites are available, they can often stay there for one week.
Moving is an emotional process that can easily become overwhelming. By spreading out the packing timeline, you and your loved one will be able to take breaks when needed.
5. Pack a separate “essential items” bag.
It may take a couple of days to unpack and organize everything. Even if your loved one’s boxes are thoroughly labeled, the number of boxes can make it very time-consuming to sort through and figure out where the essentials are.
To avoid this stress, make sure your loved one has a separate bag of essentials that stays close to them in the car instead of going into the moving truck. The bag may include clothes, medications, toiletries, blankets, pillows, and anything related to their hobbies (for example, puzzles or a book or two to read) that help them feel comfortable and settled.
6. Know what to expect on the move-in date.
The move-in date will be a very busy day, but community team members are there to reduce the stress you and your loved one may feel. On moving day, encourage your loved one to enjoy the community’s amenities right away. This will create a positive experience and make the new community feel like home.
Keep your loved one’s apartment door open on moving day. Residents of senior living communities are always curious when a new resident is moving in, and they are likely to stop by and say hello. This will help your loved one feel more at ease and quickly build relationships. However, if this feels overwhelming for your loved one, it’s perfectly acceptable to leave the door closed or kindly ask visitors to come by later after the busy moving process is complete.
Moving days are always long and tiring, but don’t hurry home after the moving truck has been unpacked. Stay in the community for a while so you can enjoy a meal with your loved one and help them unpack as much as possible that day. It can be a great experience that helps to establish their first positive memory at their new home.
Cedarhurst communities offer a unique way for our incoming residents to get settled. Our exclusive Pair to Prepare™ program encourages a new resident’s spouse, relative, or friend to stay with them for a few days at no expense to help them get settled and feel comfortable.
Start the Senior Living Journey
Moving into senior living is an exciting journey, but the to-do list of things to take care of before the big move can feel overwhelming. Not sure where to start with helping your loved one? Check out our guide, Moving to Senior Living: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Move.
Originally published August 2022. Revised October 2023.