How to Transition From a Home to a Senior Living Community
Now that your loved one has chosen their floor plan in a senior living community that meets their needs and preferences, it’s time to look toward creating a smooth transition from their current home to their future one.
A senior living transition, or moving to a new senior living community, is exciting, but it can also be stressful and packed with a range of emotions for both the senior and for their loved ones. Fortunately, you can take steps ahead of the move to create a positive experience for everyone, including your senior parent.
It’s important to work with your loved one in order to create a smooth senior living transition. We’ve seen what works for other Cedarhurst families, and we’re sharing those tips so you know where to start.
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The Importance of a Smooth Senior Living Community Transition
Moving homes is stressful for anyone of any age. However, for older adults, it can be even more important to have a smooth transition.
Relocation stress syndrome, once referred to as “transition trauma,” is a phrase that defines a set of physical and emotional symptoms that can occur when an individual is moved from one environment to another. Relocation stress syndrome can affect anyone of any age, including college kids moving away from home for the first time, but it especially affects older adults who are moving from one home to another. For seniors, a move can cause symptoms ranging from increased anxiety and depression to a withdrawal from activities they typically enjoy.
Here’s the good news, though: You can ease the strain and effects of relocation stress syndrome by addressing the emotions that come along with moving as well as planning for a smooth first few weeks in their new community.
Preparing for a senior living transition typically means you’re rightsizing possessions and packing to move over the course of a few weeks or months. Having this extra time can benefit you and your loved one because you’re able to take the time you both need to process this change and look forward to the lifestyle that awaits ahead.
Provide the necessary emotional support.
Make the most of your time by opening up conversations about how your parent or loved one is feeling about their upcoming move. It’s important to listen to their feelings without rushing to “fix” the uncomfortable ones. Validate their experience and simply listen, allowing them to talk about the mix of emotions they’re likely experiencing.
If you feel like your loved one could benefit from additional emotional support throughout the transition process, consider scheduling a series of appointments with a counselor who has experience working with older adults who are rightsizing. You can ask their physician for a recommendation.
If you find yourself preparing for a move due to an emergency situation or medical crisis, you might not have the luxury of spending months packing and supporting your loved one as they process their emotions. In this case, you can still get support from a counselor for yourself and your loved one, as well as keep the conversation going about the transition months after the move. It’s never too late to successfully process the emotions that are tied up in a move.
Know what to expect and relish what’s to come.
You might find that you and your loved one are less anxious if you know what to expect during the moving process. If you have any questions about what to expect before, during, or after their upcoming move, contact the senior living community. The team there is happy to help answer any questions and put your minds at ease.
Get online regularly to check out the food menu or event calendar, and contact the community to schedule a few dates for your loved one to hang out at the community for a meal or an event. These visits will help your loved one get used to community life, meet new friends, and get excited for the opportunities that await them after a move.
Finally, consider encouraging your loved one to daydream about their upcoming lifestyle. Remember, senior living communities are designed to offer amenities and services that enhance their lifestyle and help them thrive in their new home. The more your loved one has the chance to daydream about all the perks and excitement to come, the more they will eagerly anticipate their upcoming move.
A successful senior living transition also relies on planning for the actual logistics of moving day and beyond. You can make the move a bit easier by investing in the right professionals who can make the entire experience easier.
Hire movers to do the heavy lifting.
Start with professional movers who have experience with senior living transitions. You can call your loved one’s senior living community for a list of vetted moving vendors, or you can ask for recommendations from neighbors or friends. Whenever possible, be sure you are working with a team of movers that understands the complexities of moving from a house to a senior living community.
Pack it up with a professional.
Once your movers are booked, you can begin to start the process of packing. You can find a professional organizer to assist you with the physical act of rightsizing and packing, or with giving you a plan of action to make the most of your time and energy.
Search for professional organizers who have experience working with seniors during the rightsizing process. You can also find an Aging Specialist organizer who has taken ongoing educational courses specific to the complexities of working with older adults during a transitional period.
Keep an eye on the end goal.
Finally, ensure you’re staying in close communication with the senior living team in the weeks leading up to the move. They’re there to help coordinate moving times, where to unload, which elevators to use, and more.
The first day in a senior living community is busy, and it can be easy for your loved one to become overwhelmed. Work together ahead of time to develop a plan for keeping the move efficient but paced to suit your loved one’s preferences. It can also be helpful if your loved one knows why so many people are stopping by to say hello and ask questions.
The most crucial part of a successful senior living transition is often family involvement and connection.
Successfully settle in with Pair to Prepare™.
If your loved one is moving to a Cedarhurst community, take advantage of our innovative Pair to Prepare™ program. In this program, new residents can invite a family member to stay with them for the first days (and nights) of their transition.
The resident and their family member are treated to special meals with leadership staff, personalized tours of the community, and even a day at the spa to enjoy together. Having this extra time together can increase the success of a peaceful transition and can also give the family member a chance to get to know key team members and daily routines.
Create a calendar for connection.
After the move, you can also stay connected with your loved one by creating a calendar of family phone calls and events for the first month or so of their transition. Involve other family members to plan regular calls to check in and offer encouraging words.
Family visits are also wonderful ways to ease the transition. However, be sure visits involve a bit of community life. For example, enjoy a meal together in the dining room, attend an event with your loved one, or stroll outside while saying hello to new neighbors. This can help your loved one feel like a part of their new community.
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