Are you or a loved one making a transition to assisted living? This post offers 13 essential tips to set the stage for a smooth, stress-free move.
Making the transition to assisted living can be a significant life change for older adults and their family members. Moving can be overwhelming on its own. Add the emotions that come along with a major life change, and it can be an unsettling situation.
1: Assess and Plan
Before moving to assisted living, spend time taking inventory of your specific needs and preferences and all senior living options. Consider factors like the level of care needed: do you need basic assistance or more comprehensive support? Also, consider the type of senior living community that best suits you. Will independent living, assisted living, assisted living memory care or skilled nursing be the best fit for you?
Create a detailed plan encompassing all aspects of the transition. This plan should include a comprehensive checklist of tasks that need to be completed before the move, such as finalizing financial arrangements, setting up necessary healthcare services, and organizing the logistics of the move itself. Additionally, outline a timeline that includes important dates, like when to start packing, the moving date, and any deadlines for paperwork or deposits.
It’s also beneficial to plan for the initial period after the move, setting goals for adjusting to the new environment, such as joining community activities or arranging visits from family and friends. Paying attention to the smallest details will go a long way toward making the process smoother and less overwhelming.
If you need assistance with this part of the process, you may want to consider engaging the services of a geriatric care manager.
2: Declutter and Downsize
As you prepare for the move to a senior living community, you’ll need to tackle the task of decluttering and downsizing your current home. Go through your belongings methodically, room by room, making thoughtful decisions about what to keep, what to donate, what to sell, and what to discard.
This process simplifies your move. It also helps in the adjustment to the likely smaller living space in an assisted living community.
For an efficient and less stressful move, consider enlisting the help of a professional organizer or downsizing specialist experienced in senior transitions. Their expertise can be invaluable in making your move to assisted living smoother and more manageable.
3: Pack With Purpose
As you prepare to transition to assisted living, pack your current home with your new home in mind. Pack room-by-room, grouping items that will be used in specific rooms of the new home together. This will make the process of setting up your new space more intuitive.
Clearly label each box with detailed descriptions for easier and more efficient unpacking.
Invest in sturdy boxes and high-quality packing materials, especially for fragile items and cherished possessions, to prevent damage during the move.
If planning the move seems overwhelming, you may want to consider hiring a senior move specialist who can handle the process from start to finish. (What is a Senior Move Specialist?)
4: Hire Experienced Movers
Moving can be a stressful event, even without the complexities of a transition to an assisted living community. It’s smart to choose a moving company that specializes in senior moves to senior living communities. Do some research to find a reputable and experienced company that understands the unique needs and concerns of older adult
Make sure the company you choose is fully insured and equipped to handle any specialized needs you or your parent may have, such as handling delicate heirlooms or medical equipment.
5: Coordinate With the Senior Living Community
A clear line of communication with your senior living community is a must if you want a seamless transition. Speak with the community’s management to review and fully understand their policies, move-in procedures, and any specific requirements they may have. This could include details on move-in times, furniture dimensions, or available amenities.
Ask about any support services they offer to assist new residents with settling in.
6: Get the Apartment Layout and Measurements
Before you move, you will need the layout and precise measurements of your new assisted living apartment. This will allow you to plan how you will arrange your furniture and belongings efficiently. It will also give you a good idea of how much you will need to downsize your belongings.
Measure each room and consider the dimensions of your current furniture to determine what will fit comfortably in the new space. To avoid clutter in the new place, keep only the most necessary and cherished items.
7: Organize Medical and Legal Documents
As you prepare for the move to an assisted living facility, it’s important to have all your important documents in order. This includes organizing and updating your medical records, which are essential for continuity of care in your new living situation.
Additionally, legal documents such as wills, powers of attorney, and advance directives should be readily accessible. It’s also a good idea to have your financial paperwork well organized.
This is the perfect time to schedule a visit with your elder law attorney and/or financial advisor for a review and update of documents and your long-term care plan.
8: Notify Others Of Your Change of Address
Start by alerting the post office to forward your mail. You’ll also need to inform banks, government agencies like Social Security and Medicare, and any other organizations that regularly communicate with you or handle your personal affairs.
9: Cancel or Transfer Utilities and Services
Managing your utilities and other services is a key task. To ensure a seamless transition, cancel or transfer essential services such as electricity, gas, water, cable, and internet to your new address. Not only will this ensure continuity of services like your phone and internet connection, but it will also help you avoid unnecessary charges for utilities at your previous home.
You will also need to review and cancel or adjust any standing appointments for personal services like hair appointments, meal deliveries, and scheduled rides.
If you have subscriptions or regular deliveries, you should update those as well.
10: Pack a Personal Bag
On moving day, it’s important to have easy access to your daily essentials. Pack a personal bag with items you’ll need when you arrive at your new home, such as medications, toiletries, a change of clothes, and important documents.
This bag is essentially a kit for your first night in assisted living, so you have all your necessities at hand while you settle in and begin to unpack your other belongings.
11: Seek Support if Necessary
For many, the emotional aspect of moving to an assisted living community can be as significant as the physical move itself. It’s perfectly normal to experience a range of emotions during a big transition like this.
To navigate these feelings, don’t hesitate to lean on your support network. Family, friends, and even fellow residents can offer invaluable emotional support and practical advice.
If you or your loved ones find the transition particularly challenging, consider seeking professional help. A therapist experienced in senior transitions to assisted living communities can provide guidance and coping strategies, helping you adjust more comfortably to your new living environment.
Remember, seeking support is a sign of strength and an important step in making a positive transition to assisted living.
When settling into your new home, prioritizing safety and accessibility are key to enjoying your new place with greater peace of mind and independence.
Make sure that your new home is equipped with essential safety features to support activities of daily living. Features such as grab bars in the bathroom, non-slip surfaces to prevent falls, and clear pathways free of tripping hazards.
Proper lighting throughout your home is vital, not only for visibility but also for reducing the risk of accidents.
13: Get Engaged in the New Community
One of the most rewarding aspects of moving to an assisted living residence is the opportunity to become part of a vibrant, engaging community.
In assisted living facilities, actively engaging in social and recreational activities can significantly ease your transition. Attend community events, join clubs or groups that pique your interest, and take advantage of the various amenities and programs available.
Building relationships with fellow residents and staff not only enriches your social life but also helps create a sense of belonging in your new home.
Bonus Tip: Make Adjustments After the Move
Once you’ve settled into your new home, it’s important to take some time to reflect on your transition to assisted living. How well is your current setup meeting your needs and comfort? Are there aspects of your daily routine that need tweaking? Do you need additional support or resources?
Settling into a new living situation is a process, and it’s perfectly normal to make changes as you adapt. We hope these tips will serve as a good guide as you or your loved one transition to assisted living
These 13 tips will make your transition to assisted living as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Disclaimer: The content on this site is meant for general informational purposes and should not be considered professional advice. While we strive for accuracy, we recommend consulting experts for specific guidance. We are not responsible for any decisions made based on this information.
Liz Craven, co-publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide alongside her husband Wes, brings a blend of personal experience and heartfelt dedication to her work. Their path in eldercare started with a family story — caring for Wes' grandmother, Mabel, who faced Alzheimer's. This personal chapter not only highlighted the complexities of eldercare but also ignited their passion to support others in similar situations. Later, Liz and Wes filled the caregiver role three more times for their parents. Through the Sage Aging ElderCare Guide, Liz offers a mix of empathetic insight and practical advice, making eldercare more approachable and less daunting for families. Her commitment shines through in every piece of advice, aiming to ease the journey for others as they navigate the world of eldercare.