Apr 23
Old Photographs

Spring Cleaning for a Move to Senior Living

By Catherine Arendt, Era Living’s At Your Service Manager

Spring is a time older adults and their families often begin to explore senior living communities. This occurs for many reasons. Spending more time alone during the dreary Seattle winter can make for long days. In other cases, it is because an older home is no longer the safest environment for a senior, or too much maintenance is involved.  Bathrooms that are not equipped for the needs of older adults, poor lighting and too many stairs to climb are all contributing factors for potentially harmful falls.

As the weather improves, the idea of visiting senior living communities and spring cleaning for a move often feels like a good solution.

6 Tips for Downsizing and Moving to a Senior Living Community

When you or an aging parent is first beginning to organize for a move, it is easy to feel paralyzed by all that needs to be done. Cleaning out the attic. Finding a home for treasured belongings you will no longer have space for. Getting the house ready to sell. It can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you or your senior loved one have lived in your home for many decades.

These six tips can help make the transition a little easier:

  1. Have Realistic Expectations: Take your time to do your research. Finding a senior living community you feel comfortable calling home and handling all of the logistics that go along with moving is a big undertaking. Don’t create additional stress for you or your senior loved one by attempting to make this move in a week or two if you don’t have to.
  2. Important Steps to Downsizing:  Begin by setting goals of what you want to accomplish and then create a plan and timeline to get you there.  Communicate your plan and ask for help from family, friends or professionals.  Next, focus your attention on what you use every day and what you love the most.  This will clarify what to keep and what to pass on.  As you downsize, start in the rooms or areas of the home used the least. It is often easier to part with items you don’t use as often.  Label boxes by their final destination. For example, have one for each child, one for donations, one for items that will be moving with you, and one for items you just aren’t sure what to do with. And, of course, keep a trash can or bag with you for getting rid of those things you just don’t need.
  3. Plan the New Space: If you have already decided what senior living community you will be moving to, use  its floor plan  to lay out your new space. Measure your furniture against the room dimensions so you know what will fit and what will need to find a new home.  Make sure you are working to scale.  Since you are most likely moving to a smaller space than your home, consider choosing pieces that will provide extra storage.  Ask yourself these three questions about every piece you plan on moving: 1) Will it work in the new space?  2)  Is it worth the cost of moving?  3)  Will it make me happy when I unpack it?
  4. Be Patient with Yourself: The process of going through a lifetime of memories isn’t easy for aging parents or adult children. Allow yourselves the chance to cherish the memories while remembering this change is the start of a new adventure.
  5. Preserve the Past: Leaving a place that has been home for your family for many years can be emotionally painful. Making time to create a scrapbook of photos or a video tour of the house is one way you can take those memories with you when you move to a senior living community.
  6. Plan for Moving Day: Remember to allow yourself extra time to prepare for the actual day of the move. Assemble a suitcase or box of items that you and those family members who will be helping you may need on moving day and in the day immediately following the move. It should contain an adequate supply of medications, important personal papers, and a copy of your medical file. You might also want to create a box that contains supplies you will need as you are unpacking and settling in. Those might include the coffee pot and supplies or a tea kettle, snacks, cleaning products, toilet paper, and cleaning rags.

Our final suggestion is to consider hiring a senior move manager to help with this transition. There are several who are familiar with the Seattle senior market and can help you with important decisions such as hiring a moving company and finding a seniors real estate specialist to help sell your home.  They are very helpful on move day with unpacking and settling you into your new home and they will remove all the packing material.  All you need to do is put your feet up and enjoy your new home.

If you’re interested in attending a downsizing workshop, please visit our schedule here.