4 Min Read
Easing the Stress of Rightsizing or Moving to Assisted Living
Change at any age can be tough. But uprooting your entire life and rightsizing or moving to assisted living later in life can be a monumental decision with its own stressors. For seniors, moving can take a physical and emotional toll on the body, triggering grief, sadness, and even trauma.
If you’re a caregiver or loved one helping a senior prepare for an upcoming move, it’s important to recognize the emotional struggles these situations may cause. One moment your loved one may be excited to start a new chapter in life, and the next they may be worried that they’re not ready.
So, how can you help your senior loved one cope with rightsizing or moving to assisted living?
Consider these tips to make the transition as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Create a comfortable environment, before they move.
If possible, help your loved one to immediately feel at home in their new space by setting up their apartment in advance. If you can’t move all their belongings before the big day, create at least one space or room with their favorite furniture, books, photos, and other personal mementos to help them feel safe and welcomed right away. While you may be tempted to buy new furniture or décor for the new space, sticking with familiar items may feel comforting when all else seems to be changing.
Rightsizing or packing up all your belongings can be exhausting. It can lead to disagreements or arguments. Keep in mind that while you may not see the importance in some of your loved one’s belongings, they may hold sentimental value for them. Likewise, some of the things causing them stress may not make sense to you. Be kind to your loved one’s feelings, belongings, worries, and anticipations. If your loved one must part with cherished items due to space, think of those closest to them and what items they might enjoy receiving.
Ask others for help.
This may include requesting an extra set of hands from family or staff members from your loved one’s new assisted living community. Don’t be afraid to ask for extra help with the move, resources about your loved one’s interests (activities for example) in their assisted living facility, and any other information that may make the transition better.
Empower your loved one.
A surefire way to make your loved one feel disconnected and take away their sense of independence is to keep them from the decision-making process. Include them in the moving decisions as much as possible. Bring them to all visits to assisted living communities while narrowing down your choices and ask for their feedback on all apartments or communities you visit. Help them to feel very much empowered and involved in the process.
Many people are creatures of habit. If this sounds like your loved one, help them to find more predictability in the change by writing out their daily routine, scheduling weekly or daily visits with loved ones, or join them in a class or event throughout the week. Turn the uncertainty into something to look forward to.
Prepare as much as possible.
Moving days, and the days leading up to it, are hard. Create a plan to make the transition easier. Block out specific days for packing certain areas of the home, contacting movers and other professionals like cable or internet companies, and look at a floor plan for the new space to determine which furniture and belongings will fit in each room. Set aside important items your loved one wants to have close the day of the move and work according to your schedule to manage moving anxiety and sadness.
Don’t forget to laugh.
Things may go wrong. As much as you plan ahead, there may be small inconveniences or large setbacks along the way. While moving can be hectic, remind yourself to try to laugh and enjoy this meaningful time together as a family. You’re making the best decisions for your loved ones, and that’s worth celebrating.