Moving is never an easy process, but helping a loved one transition to a retirement community or assisted living center can be especially emotional. Older people often have been living in the same place for decades. They may have raised their children and made countless other memories there. There’s also likely a collection of personal belongings that has grown over the years for you to sort through together. Additionally, moving a loved one to senior care could mean less independence in your loved one’s eyes.
One sign that it’s time to consider moving to a care home is if you notice they are forgetting things, such as taking medication or stocking the refrigerator with food. Additionally, they may have recently suffered a fall or injury that makes it difficult for them to continue living alone.
The first steps
Before you can even think about packing, it’s important to have a conversation with your family members who want to be involved. Topics to discuss are how much care your loved one needs, what residential options are available and which locations are within a reasonable financial range. Family members should talk about lifestyle changes the move will bring and what role everyone plans to take during the time of transition. Consider if your loved one needs constant supervision or just occasional care, what he or she can still do independently and the types of medical attention that will be necessary.
Due to the extent of packing and moving a full house, getting an early start to the process is ideal. This will give everyone ample time to sort through belongings without the extra pressure of an approaching deadline. Before you begin dividing and conquering, find out the measurements of your loved one’s new space. This will help you determine what can be saved and what has to be discarded. It’s also important to consider your loved one’s feelings about packing. Acknowledge the loss they are experiencing but try not to get emotional in front of them.
Break packing up by room and don’t hesitate to stop and take breaks if it becomes too overwhelming for either party. Making several piles may help if your loved one is feeling indecisive, but some people prefer the more clear cut method of “this stays” and “this goes.” Categories you may want to use are items for storage, to move to the new place, to sell, to throw away, for family to look through and to donate. You can show your loved one charities to choose from for donations. Knowing that belongings are going to someone in need can make them easier to part with. It might be beneficial to find out if any nearby donation centers will pick items up for you, to save yourself a step. Also, find out if you can get a receipt from donating for a tax deduction.
If you find your loved one is overwhelmed, stick to yes or no questions rather than asking which items he or she wants to keep. Perhaps have them choose one or two favorite items out of a collection. It may be best to encourage them to keep what they actually use instead of the belongings that are the nicest or newest. When you run into a room or drawer that is too difficult, consider waiting until they are settled in an assisted living center to finish the sorting process. Unless the house is being sold or rented immediately, it can be less stressful to comb through certain rooms after the move.