Preparing Emotionally for a Move to Senior Living in 2020

November 01, 2020
By Alyse Wagner - American House

Whether you’ve thought it, coined it or have said it aloud, there is something very real about the phrase “there’s no place like home.” It’s our sense of comfort and belonging. It’s a space that’s jam packed with moments and memories. 

So, when it comes to the decision that it might be time for your loved one to make the move to senior living, it’s no surprise that it’s often difficult and emotional. 

It’s important to remain open minded, supportive and compassionate during this time. 

Remind your loved one that retirement is the perfect time to pick up the hobby they’ve always wanted to, travel to places they’ve never been, spend more time with family and friends and, most of all,  start the best chapter of their life. All of these things are easily at their fingertips when they don’t have to worry about the maintenance of a home. 

To help ease this transition, here are a few things to consider:

Starting the Conversation

Starting the conversation with a loved one about making the move to senior living can be intimidating. But, choosing the right community will be one of the most important decisions your loved one makes. 
By discussing the topic early, and maintaining open lines of communication, you’ll avoid being faced with making this very important decision in an emergency-type situation.

  • Prior to starting the conversation, research care options and local communities to see what’s available. Check out community reviews, visit senior living resources or contact local senior organizations to help get you started.
  • Be sensitive and empathetic to your loved one and, most importantly, listen to them. Allow him/her to communicate how they feel and offer reassurance. If your loved one does not want to make the move, this gives you the opportunity to address any concerns and talk about the benefits of senior living.
  • Revisit this conversation often and understand it can take time. It’s important not to hesitate on the initial conversation so you’re not left rushing your loved into making a big decision if there’s an emergency.
  • Remind your loved one there has been a move away from the nursing home model of care for some time now. Senior living communities focus on an older adult’s lifestyle, and often have a calendar of diverse activities and events, including a variety of cultural, social, recreational and spiritual programming. Seniors can look forward to beautifully designed apartments with spacious floor plans, rather than having an institutional, hospital feel.

Focus on the Benefits 

  • In a senior living community, your loved one can enjoy services like housekeeping, laundry and on-site maintenance. 
  • Senior living communities also create a calendar of diverse activities and events, including a variety of cultural, social, recreational and spiritual programming – perks that they wouldn’t receive living at home. 
  • Your loved one will also have a sense of security. A fall can have serious consequences for a senior, as can safety, when living alone. At a senior living community, there are always people around to help if needed.

Check out: 8 Reasons To Reconsider Delaying the Move 

Visit Communities Near You

Schedule tours at local senior living communities and do it the way they feel most comfortable, whether it’s virtually, curbside or in person, it’s important that they feel safe. In addition, this will allow your loved one can see a “day in the life” at a community. Enjoy a meal, attend an event or speak with current residents to get a feel for the community. Offer your loved one choices, and allow them to weigh in on the matter. What community did they like? What amenities and services do they want?

Check Out: 25 Questions to Ask When Touring a Senior Living Community 

The Downsizing Process

There’s no question moving out of a home where your loved one made years of happy memories can be a difficult process. With organizing, sorting, packing, scheduling movers and getting settled in their new home, it may seem like a stressful undertaking. Many seniors delay the move due to the many emotions, decisions and details associated with moving. 
To help put your loved one at ease, offer to help by starting the process of sorting through items. Following our 4-Color Method can help make the move a little easier. 

4-Color Method

To begin, set up four boxes in the area where you will be helping your loved one sort their items. Create a Keep (Blue), Toss (Red), Sell (Green) and Donate (Yellow) box. Stick to only these four boxes.

Keep (Blue)
•    Consider their new space and use it as a guide for the items they plan to bring.
•    Put emphasis on their most used items, which doesn’t necessarily have to be the newest or most expensive.
•    If they have a collection of some sort, help them pick their favorite two items and take photos of the rest. Have those photos made into a photobook to put on their coffee table.

Toss (Red)
•    If an item is broken, chipped or stained, there’s no need to keep it.
•    Don’t shy away from tossing household items such as spices, toiletries, plastic food containers, candles, etc.

Sell (Green)
•    There are plenty of ways to sell the items that are no longer wanted or needed. With eBay, Facebook Marketplace, yard sales and consignment shops, selling belongings has never been easier. 

Donate (Yellow)
•    Suggest to your loved one to give useful or memorable items to friends and family.
•    Oftentimes, charities will pick up belongings from your loved one’s home. Non-profit organizations, like The Salvation Army, Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity, provide pick up services and will accept everything from vehicles and clothing to furniture and small electronics.  Check with your favorite local charity to see if they accept dropped-off donations or to see if they will pick-up your loved one’s items for free.

Make the Move…Once

This is a key benefit for many seniors that make the move to a senior living community even if their age or health isn’t in question. Many senior communities have assisted living and memory care living options as part of the overall community. This means, if your loved one needs a higher level of care, they won’t have to leave the community and home they love. They’ll be able to stay with their friends and staff that they’ve come to know and trust. 

Check Out: A Day in the Life at American House 

Life at American House

At American House, we offer maintenance-free living at its finest. Our charming communities feature spacious apartments with a variety of amenities and services. Residents enjoy chef-prepared meals, weekly housekeeping, salon and barber shop services, fitness centers and so much more. With locations in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, New Hampshire and Florida, you’re sure to find the proper level of care and services to fit your needs.
We offer independent living, assisted living, memory care*, respite care and hospice care*.
Contact us to find out which American House community is right for you.

*Care provided by an independent, third-party health care provider at select communities.

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