Estelle looked around her living room, confused and obviously overwhelmed. Now, after living in her home for the past 45 years, it was time for her to transition to a senior community and it was clear that she had no idea where to even start. A move at any point in life can be stressful, but as a senior, a move isn't just a move. It's a completely new way of life and a transition that can be both difficult and incredibly emotional. But there are ways to make these types of later in life transitions easier for the senior, as well as their adult children, family and friends.
Whenever possible, taking time to plan a transition is always the best place to start. Allow plenty of time to go through belongings and to pack. It's important to realize that this process doesn't have to be done in a day. Set realistic goals and deadlines, while realizing that every box packed is an accomplishment! Starting early and working at a slower pace can ease the stress and emotions that go along with it.
Don't Downsize, Rightsize
If a move includes leaving a larger home for a smaller residence, there is no question that choices must be made about what will, and what won't, be coming to the new home. Chances are many things will not be able to make the move simply because they won't fit into the new space. This presents a wonderful opportunity to think about the things that really matter and what's needed to live comfortably on a daily basis. Take time deciding what can be given to family and friends for them to enjoy, or donated to a favorite charity or cause.
This is not just another move, but many times the last move that will be made. Taking time for reminiscing is very important during this time of transition. Going through boxes of photographs or other memorabilia with family and friends allows for great opportunities to not only share memories, but pass along stories that can be enjoyed throughout the entire family. Sharing these fond memories of a family home and all the wonderful events experienced while living there gives everyone a chance to feel part of the moving process and more connected to the individual who is moving.
It's very important to see a new residence prior to moving in - many times, if possible. Working ahead on a layout for a new residence ahead of time not only eases the stress of moving day, but allows for the determination of what will and won't fit, and what new items may need to be acquired in order to make a new residence feel like home. Additionally, knowing where everything will be placed helps the moving team do their jobs more productively and aids in getting a new home set up more quickly and in a manner that feels familiar and comfortable.
A later in life transition does not need to be made alone! Now is the perfect time to ask family members and friends for help and support. Whether this means helping make decisions about what to take, listening to stories about years of fun times and memories or even helping to pick out new furniture or bedding, now is the ideal time to reach out and connect with people who can help you make this transition less stressful and more enjoyable.
The process of moving begins long before the first box is packed. By taking adequate time and asking for help from family and friends, later in life transitions can be both successful and less stressful.