Preparing for a Senior Living Move


Published: 05/03/2012

by Michelle Seitzer


You’ve done the heavy lifting in terms of decision-making and paperwork, but once you’ve chosen the right senior care community for an aging parent or loved one, the real work begins. The physical heavy-lifting -- and even the emotional transition for both the caregiver and the person moving -- is equally difficult.


Remember our previous post on why being organized makes you a better caregiver? (Read it here.) The same is true in this situation, even if you hire movers to help with packing and transport. Be prepared and stay ahead of the chaos with this basic guide:


Before moving day:

After you have a floor plan or dimensions for the new apartment or room, determine how much he can realistically store, and what furniture she’ll be bringing with her. Once you’ve decided on those items, mark them accordingly and ask what he/she wants you to do with the rest. Don’t wait until after the move to divvy things up amongst yourselves.


Set up a moving sale or donation pick-up for the remaining items.


Make sure utilities are disconnected and a new address packet has been completed to ensure that all mail will be redirected. Make the necessary transfers of bank accounts and other finance-related arrangements.


Pack non-essential items first.


Get estimates on moving services and contract with one accordingly, if you choose to go that route. Or, schedule a day when the family can all come to help. The more organized you are before they arrive (family or professional movers), the more productive the day will be for everyone.


Throughout the process, be respectful of your parent or caree’s decisions about what stays and what goes. Make sure they are involved in decision-making and comfortable with how things are proceeding. There may be tears and emotions; recognize this is natural and allow him the dignity to grieve this pending life change, or give her a tissue and a hug around the shoulders rather than telling her “Don’t cry, things will be fine!”


On moving day:

Don’t rush. Keep essential paperwork and items like keys and cell phones safe and close at hand so everyone involved can communicate effectively. Make sure the movers and family members who are helping have a copy of the directions to the senior living community. After unpacking, check for missing or damaged items and address these issues immediately. Have a meal together as a family after the move is completed; don’t just unpack the last box and go.


After moving day:

Visit often. Call and check in frequently. Ask if there is anything she needs, anything he’s forgotten, anything she brought and doesn’t want. Don’t assume your loved one needs “time to settle in” and back off: if anything, the first few days will be lonely, strange and overwhelming, and the familiar voice or presence of a family member or friend can ease the transition more than “giving them space” would. It’s an adjustment that will take time, no matter how social your parent is or how quickly your loved one makes friends. Support them through the transition so they feel loved and affirmed, rather than abandoned and forgotten.


For a more detailed checklist, breaking down the process to 2 months, 1 month, 2 weeks, and 7 days before moving (and a day before/day of section), check out this post from Brookdale Senior Living: “Checklist for Moving Into a Senior Retirement Community.”