You’ve spent time doing research, asking questions, and have chosen a senior living community tailored to your loved one’s needs, preferences, and budget. Now it’s time to begin planning the move and making the transition to their new home as exciting and smooth as possible.
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Just like any move, this transition can feel stressful, frustrating, exciting, and overwhelming all at once. It’s important to realize that you and your loved one are feeling a mix of emotions, and those emotions are all valid. With the right expectations, a lot of communication, and a bit of preparation, you can ensure the transition is as easy as possible. The better prepared you and your loved one are, the more positive the entire experience will be for everyone.
Here are a few specific plans to make, as well as what to expect during your loved one’s move to their new senior living community home.
Before Moving Day
Your loved one’s successful transition to senior living begins long before moving day arrives. You can decrease your loved one’s risk of relocation stress syndrome—which can cause feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness after the move—by easing your loved one into their new lifestyle.
Plan Pre-Move Visits
Contact the community and ask if you can set up a few times to bring your loved one to a meal or to an event. The community’s team can ensure they sit your loved one next to a friendly resident who can help them feel welcome.
These visits will not only help your loved one to build friendships with their new neighbors, but it will help their new community feel more like home. Your loved one will be more familiar with the community this way as well, meaning they won’t be so overwhelmed by the new hallways and spaces when they move in.
Involve Them in Moving Preparations
Involve your loved one with moving preparations, including picking out any new furniture. Going shopping for a new art piece to hang on the wall or new bedding can help the move feel more exciting than overwhelming. Don’t forget to contact the community as needed to pick up a floor plan or get the final measurements that can help you and your loved one plan for the layout before moving day arrives. This extra planning is exciting, and it also helps moving day feel less stressful.
Keep an Eye on Moving-Day Details
Stay in contact with your loved one’s senior community to nail down moving day details and instructions. Team members can also help you out by providing recommendations or referrals for senior moving services that can make moving day even easier. When you and your loved one enlist the assistance of a senior moving company, you can both spend more time enjoying moving day instead of sweating and doing the heavy lifting yourself.
On Moving Day
Now that moving day is finally here, it’s time to get belongings moved and to feel settled in.
Enjoy the Amenities
During the moving process, see if you can attend a meal with your loved one in the dining room. This is a pleasant distraction from all the hustle and bustle of the movers and is a great way to meet some new neighbors. Plus, you’re guaranteed to feel hungry after all that packing and organizing!
Ask for Help
Don’t hesitate to tell community team members if you need assistance with hanging photos on the wall or if you are unsure of how to work the thermostat. Community team members are there to help, and they typically are able to provide that assistance quickly on the day of the move, or very shortly after.
Find a Distraction
If your loved one seems distraught or overwhelmed during moving day, encourage them to attend an event or activity at the community. You can escort them to the event or ask a team member to show them the way. This offers a distraction, and your loved one will be greeted by new residents to help them feel welcome.
Embrace the Hustle and Bustle
Try keeping your loved one’s apartment door open while you are settling in on the first day. Neighbors will be curious about who is moving in and are more likely to stop by and say hello with an open door. It’s a great way to meet new friends.
It is also common for many community team members to stop by to say hello during moving day. Embrace the hustle and bustle, because everyone is just excited to welcome your loved one. If you find that all the extra attention is making your loved one feel more stressed or overstimulated, go ahead and request that the staff member come back in at another time, and quiet things down.
After Moving Day
The transition process doesn’t stop after moving day. Your loved one will slowly acclimate to their new lifestyle and home over the course of weeks and months.
Engage with the Welcoming Committee
Exceptional communities feature a few programs that are designed to help your loved one feel comfortable and welcome as quickly as possible. For example, in many communities, a Resident Ambassador and/or a Resident Welcome Committee will ensure your loved one is welcomed and involved as much as they are comfortable with. This may even include a housewarming party!
The Resident Welcome Committee program typically pairs up a current resident with a new resident in order to give them a friendly face to look for at events and in meals. Welcome Committees often throw monthly New Resident Social events as well, giving everyone the chance to introduce themselves and make a few new friends.
Stick Around for a While: Cedarhurst’s Pair to Prepare
Cedarhurst communities also offer a unique way for family members to ease the transition for their loved one during the move. The Pair to Prepare program gives family members the chance to spend the first week with their loved one in the community after they move in. Residents feel more comfortable with their loved ones there, and loved ones have the opportunity to get to know the community’s rhythm, lifestyle, and staff members.
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Lean on Team Members
Finally, it is important to note that community team members will also be actively involved with your loved one’s transition. It’s common for team members from different departments, like dining or life enrichment, to visit your loved one to complete a history and personal assessment. These visits ensure the team members get to know more about your loved one so that they can provide them with personalized care and social opportunities.
Visit Often and Get Involved
Once the excitement of moving day has died down, you are still an important part of your loved one’s life. You’re invited to visit and get involved with community life as much as you’d like. You can inquire about special family events with the community team or visit on your own any time. Your loved one will appreciate the visit, and you’ll like feeling as if you are a part of the community’s extended family as well.
Get Started with Senior Living
Are you ready to make senior living a part of your family’s future plan? Download our free resource, Having the Conversation: Talking to a Parent About Senior Living, for tips on how to confidently approach the sensitive subject. Soon, you’ll be planning your loved one’s moving day with confidence and excitement.
This post was originally published in May 2022 and updated on February 2023.