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Starting the journey

Change can be exciting, but it can also be stressful because of the unknown. Whether you’re adopting a new cat or dog, your loved one is moving to a new residence, your grandchild’s attending the first day of school, or your child is leaving the nest, any type of change can be hard.

Why is this such a common experience? It’s because of the human craving for routine. Routines make our lives predictable so we know what to expect. Change disrupts our routines and can sometimes make us feel overwhelmed. 

However, sometimes the temporary discomfort and disruption that accompany major life changes are worth enduring because of the huge payoff and incredible benefits. Moving into a senior living community is one of those changes that can feel overwhelming, but it provides a substantial reward. 

The right senior living community can improve your quality of life, enable a low-maintenance lifestyle, and free up more time to spend time with loved ones—all while providing the exact balance of independence and support you need. But before you can enjoy all of these benefits, you have to navigate the challenges of preparing for the move and get over the hurdles of rightsizing, packing, and moving in. 

The experts at Cedarhurst have plenty of years of experience helping residents move into our senior living communities, and we’re here to support and guide you through this exciting change. Let’s take a look at the strategies we’ve learned over the years to lower moving-related stress and create a smooth transition into your new home.

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Cedarhurst Moving to Senior Living - Your Checklist for a Successful Move
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Preparing for Senior Living: A Moving Guide for Seniors

As with any change, uncertainty can be a major source of anxiety. You’ll find the move easier if you spend some time getting to know the community. 

Gather a list of upcoming community events you’d like to attend, so you have something to look forward to after moving day. If possible, spend some time in the community before your move. This gives you a chance to make new friends, get to know the community culture, and begin building a sense of comfort and familiarity even before you move in. 

Some other strategies that can help make preparations more manageable include: 

Coordinate your move-in date and other details with the community. 

The community may have a specific time at which you should move in, and the staff may also offer tips and additional support that can make the senior living transition feel more manageable. 

Consider which necessities will be provided for you. 

Are there items you have at home that you won’t need in a new community? For example, many communities build grab bars and other safety systems into showers, so you won’t need to take these items with you. 

Ask loved ones for help. 

Consider making packing and organizing into a fun family event rather than the drudgery you worry it might be. For example, you could schedule a family movie day and pack while you watch old favorites. 

Consider renting a storage space. 

If you’re struggling with rightsizing, renting storage space gives you more time to assess whether you miss (and want to keep) the items you put in storage. Some people also use the transition to a new community as a chance to give their loved ones important items now. If you plan to bequeath heirlooms, consider doing it before the move. 

Spend some time planning how to decorate your new space. 

Imagining decorative possibilities can build a sense of excitement for a new residence. Buying a few pieces you love, or even just investing in some cute new storage boxes, can help build anticipation. 

If the move is sudden or unexpected, keep these essentials in mind.

In many families, a crisis is the trigger for a move. You might be doing most of the packing on behalf of a loved one who needs to move quickly. 

If you’re helping a loved one move into assisted living on a quick timeline, the following strategies can help: 

  • Ask your loved one for a detailed list of the items they need most. 
  • Keep everything as organized as possible. Pack things according to the space they will be moving to, then neatly label everything. 
  • Prioritize the things that will help your loved one feel comfortable from day one. Rather than trying to pack an entire home up all at once, make a list of the most important basic needs. This might include: 
    • Clothing, toiletries, medication, and so on: Consider the items your loved one will need every day. 
    • The tools for a beloved hobby: If their bedside table is stocked with new books or you know they love houseplants, be sure to prioritize these items, so your loved one can immediately do the things they enjoy most when they move.
    • Sentimental items: A beloved wedding photo or heirloom quilt makes a new residence feel comfortable and welcoming. 
Residents smiling on a couch together

Top Tips for Moving Day

Moving day will be here before you know it—and it can fly by faster than you anticipated! 

Your first few days will feel most comfortable if you can get the majority of your unpacking done quickly, so plan to start early on moving day. That means getting a good night’s sleep the night before and a healthy, nourishing breakfast that will keep you going during the day. Some people like to order take-out from their favorite breakfast restaurant and enjoy a big meal with their family before they get going. 

Some strategies that can help move-in day proceed as smoothly as possible include: 

Get the right help, and plan ahead. 

Get clear commitments from loved ones who are going to help you move, and assign duties ahead of time. If you’re moving lots of boxes or heavy items, hire movers if you can. Even if you could move everything on your own, outsourcing some of the work will mean you have more energy to unpack and enjoy your new space. 

Make sure you have snacks and water ready during the day. 

Dehydration and hunger can dampen your spirit and make the move more stressful than it needs to be.

Leave your door open on moving day. 

Move-in day is a great time to meet your new neighbors, who will be curious about you. They’re more likely to stop by if they see an open door, and this is a great way to make new friends. They may even offer some help, a handful of community tips, and a snack or two. 

Staff members may also stop by to say hello during moving day. However, if these social interactions make you feel stressed or overstimulated, it’s perfectly acceptable to close the door or request that team members come back at another time when things have quieted down.

Tackle the big items first. 

Focus on unpacking, assembling, and setting up the biggest items while you have help. This principle especially applies to furniture! Tackling the biggest items first will make the rest of the unpacking feel manageable, and it means you’ll be less likely to live out of boxes for weeks. 

Ask for help from community team members. 

They’re the experts on moving into a senior living community. They can assist with navigating the transition, setting up and making the most of your new home, and handling tasks such as moving boxes. They’re there to help! 

Think about how you have handled prior transitions. 

What changes have been most difficult for you? Do any specific triggers, such as hunger, tend to cause stress reactions? Knowing yourself can help you develop a plan for self-care that makes moving better—and potentially even fun. 

Two women baking

Strategies for Getting Settled After a Senior Living Transition 

According to one of the world’s best-known stress scales, some of life’s most stressful events are also some of its most positive ones—pregnancy, getting married, and buying a home, for example. 

It may take some time to adjust to your new home and your new lifestyle. Trust yourself and your ability to make good decisions even when it takes time to acclimate. Be prepared for first-day (and second- and third-day) jitters. 

Some strategies that can prove especially helpful include: 

Practice great self-care. 

What tactics have helped you the most during previous transitions? Try putting together an emergency self-care bag that has your favorite snacks, some easy activities, and any items that always boost your mood. 

Pack an overnight bag that includes all of your basic needs. 

This way you don’t have to go digging for your favorite sweater at bedtime or worry about locating your medication. 

Plan a special treat your first night there. 

You might have a small family gathering, start a new book, or order take-out from your favorite restaurant. 

After you’ve unpacked your furniture and other basics, decorate with your favorite art or other sentimental items. 

This creates an inviting space that immediately feels more like home. It also creates a conversation piece that can help you easily strike up a chat with your new neighbors. 

Spend some time getting to know your new neighbors. 

Head down to the dining room for a meal, or introduce yourself to the folks who live next door. This can help you begin building a meaningful sense of community that will inspire you to get out, get involved, and get started living your best life. 

Couple dancing

How to make the

You've done the research and picked a community you love. Now it's time to focus on moving day. You're just a few steps away from your new lifestyle!

Before the Move

As you prepare for your move, you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed with all the packing, organizing, and rightsizing. Don't tackle this alone! Ask a few family members to help out or consider hiring a professional who is experienced with senior moves.

Be sure you are staying in communication with your senior living community as well. You'll be able to coordinate the moving day logistics as well as get vetted recommendations for moving companies or other professionals who will make the transition as smooth as possible.

On Moving Day

Moving day is busy, just like any major move. However, when you move to senior living, rest assured that there is an entire experienced team ready to make the process easy for you. You can choose to supervise, or you might prefer to begin experiencing life in your new home by attending an event, grabbing a meal with family members, or exploring campus while others handle the moving details for you.

Young woman, woman and man with dog

How Family and Friends Can Help New Senior Living Residents

Whether you’re spearheading the move or just helping a loved one settle in, you’re a vital ingredient in the recipe for a successful move. A little extra TLC in the first few weeks can help ease the transition as your loved one settles into their new lifestyle. 

Consider sticking around for a few days. 

Even the most outgoing social butterfly can struggle to meet people in a new setting. Multiply your social skills by two with the Pair to Prepare™ program, where residents invite someone to stay in the community with them during their first few days, free of charge, to help ease the transition. 

Stay in frequent contact with your loved one. 

Make a list of community events to attend together, and schedule a time to catch up on the phone or in person. Text to check in throughout the day. Then let your loved one set the pace and tone of communication. If they seem anxious, reach out more. But if they seem annoyed or distracted, it may be a sign that they need a little less support. 

Center your loved one’s feelings, not your own. 

Don’t be dismissive if your loved one seems anxious or uncertain—or even angry or resentful. Telling your loved one to calm down or insisting that they remain positive does not make the negative feelings go away, but talking about them and problem-solving together might. Remember that your loved one is entitled to the full range of human emotions about this change and about all of their experiences. 

Act as a social buffer if you can. 

Try attending community events with your loved one or helping them plan their social calendar. If you’re more extroverted than your loved one, you may be especially helpful in facilitating social connections. 

Encourage other family members to reach out and visit often. 

You can also serve as a point of contact and communication for updates on the move. Try sending out emails or texts to keep everyone in the loop and encourage people to schedule a time to drop by. 

Recognize that it’s also normal for you to have mixed emotions about your loved one’s senior living transition.

You might feel exhausted by the move itself, worry about whether this is the right decision, or even feel guilty. Maybe you feel relieved because you no longer have to offer so much support. Or perhaps you’re worried about whether you’ll be able to help your loved one navigate moving into senior living.

No matter what you feel, it’s the right way to feel. Our emotions are just feelings, not facts. And you, like your loved one, are entitled to the full range of human expression.

However, remember this is your loved one’s senior living transition, so it’s important to find healthy ways to manage your own feelings. Try some of the following strategies: 

  • Practice good self-care in between visits. Self-care is not selfish; it’s vital to your ability to support your loved one.
  • Don’t force your loved one to manage your emotions. As they move into a senior living community, they’re the one facing the most stress. When you need emotional support, turn to people who are less affected—friends or other family—for support. 
  • Look into support programs for caregivers. There are several resources available for family caregivers, including support groups. You can often find these groups in the community your loved one has moved into.
  • Ask questions about how best to support your loved one and what to expect in the coming months. The community team members are experts at helping families get acclimated to community life. They are there for you, so reach out. 
  • Take breaks. No one can be another person's sole source of physical and emotional support. If you need a nap during the move, a break from a stressful phone conversation, or a few hours to yourself, know that these are reasonable requests. 
CH Ultimate Move In Guide Moving Loved Ones 1

Need Reassurance? We Can Help 

You can’t adapt to a new routine, a new place, or a new community overnight, and you shouldn’t have to. Most of our residents say they wish they had moved earlier, and they can’t believe the benefits of a great community. That doesn’t necessarily mean they felt that day from day one. 

Making a decision about your future can be difficult, and we know you may feel anxious about what to expect—and how long it will take to adjust. Rest assured that you’ve made a great choice. The right community is a path to an enriched life with less stress, more time to do what you love, deeper and less conflicted relationships with family members, and a meaningful sense of community. 

Some strategies to ease your anxiety include: 

Take advantage of the Pair to Prepare™ program. 

Our relationships make life worth living. They also help us navigate transitions. Our innovative Pair to Prepare™ program encourages residents to select a loved one to stay with them for the first few days, at no additional charge, as they become acclimated to our welcoming community. 

Learn as much as possible about the community before you move. 

Email questions or ask them in person. Attend community events. Deepen your understanding of what to expect when you move. This empowers you to focus on moving and building a schedule you love rather than wondering where to eat or what to expect day to day. 

Use the buddy system. 

Get to know a few long-time residents to get the inside scoop on what to expect and how to make the most of community life. Then you’ll have ready-made connections when you move in, plus someone to go to when you need advice or tips on the best activities. Community events are a great place to make friends before moving in. 

Ask community team members for help and support. 

Each team member’s job is to make life better and easier for residents, so don’t shy away from reaching out as needed. 



CH Ultimate Move In Guide Moving Loved Ones 1

Ready to Start Your Senior Living Journey? 

Ready to live a low-maintenance lifestyle? Let us show you what senior living can do for you! Schedule a tour of one of our communities today to see a community in action.

Download our checklist by filling out this form:

Cedarhurst Moving to Senior Living - Your Checklist for a Successful Move

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