We know planning and executing a move can be a challenging and overwhelming process at any age. But it can also be an exciting time. And for seniors, there are some unique considerations involved, like the possibility of transitioning to a retirement or assisted living community or moving to a smaller home or apartment that may require a significant amount of downsizing. No matter where you’re headed, our moving guide is designed with seniors in mind — to ensure a smooth and positive transition. In our guide, you’ll get moving advice for seniors, tips for identifying when the time is right to move, how to prepare for a move, and advice for getting settled into your new home.
What kind of move are you making?
There are a variety of reasons you may be considering a move, including a desire to downsize living space, move closer to friends or family, or gain access to additional support from caregivers. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common housing options for seniors.
A new home or apartment
Many older adults may decide to move to a new home or apartment if they want to live closer to family members or if they want to transition to a smaller living space that’s more manageable. New homes or apartments may also provide additional accessibility features, such as single-floor living and walk-in showers, or conveniences like lawn care and landscaping services.
Retirement communities are another popular option for older adults. These communities allow seniors to socialize with their peers, participate in community activities and excursions, and gain access to a social support network outside of their immediate family.
Assisted living communities
Assisted living communities are designed to help older adults who may need assistance in their day-to-day life, but don’t require the level of medical care a nursing home would provide. Assisted living communities can help with hygiene, dressing, housekeeping, and other tasks and typically provide meals, group activities, and the opportunity for residents to socialize.
When is the right time to move?
While there are a variety of benefits that come with moving as a senior, we also understand it can be a stressful topic for individuals and families. Transitioning to a new home may mean saying goodbye to a home that’s comfortable and familiar, and it may be difficult to take the plunge and to figure out the best time to make a move. Our advice is to acknowledge these feelings but to also focus on the positive aspects of moving. It’s also important to seriously evaluate and consider your current and future needs. Some reasons why considering a move might be the right choice include:
- A desire to live closer to friends or family. If loved ones and family members live far away, you may want to move closer to have a support system nearby.
- Managing a medical condition that will require an increasing amount of care. It’s common for older adults to need more care as they age, especially if they’re managing a medical condition. If you have any medical concerns that may require more long-term support, it’s important to consider those needs and make a plan before a real need arises.
- Loss of a spouse or loved one. The death of a spouse or other close loved one may leave a void that can be difficult to navigate, especially if new tasks and responsibilities that were once taken care of are suddenly introduced. A loss can also lead to feelings of disconnection and loneliness. If this is the case, the social connections offered by living closer to loved ones or at an assisted living or retirement community may be a great help.
- Craving more social interaction. The loss of a loved one isn’t the only reason an older adult may feel lonely or isolated. If communal living with built-in social support sounds appealing, a move to a retirement or assisted living community might be a good idea.
How to prepare for a move
Moving can be challenging for seniors and their families both emotionally and logistically, even if the move is ultimately the right decision. In order to make helping seniors move as easy as possible, here are our top tips to help make sure you’re prepared:
- Start planning now. The best way to prepare for a move is to start planning now. It’s better to start researching your options now before there’s any urgency. That way, once you know the time is right to make a move, you’ll have a place already picked out, and you’ll know where you’re headed. Also, having a plan in place about what a move might look like will make the task much easier to accomplish.
- Research places that are a good fit. A key part of planning involves researching the different types of houses, apartments, retirement communities, and assisted living communities available and selecting one that meets your needs. Research floor plans, care options, amenities and services, and plan on visiting several different properties to get a feel for the environment and to ask questions. You’ll also want to factor the costs of living at each option, since one may be a better fit than another depending on your finances.
- Downsize where possible. Moving from a large home to a smaller house or apartment means some downsizing will be necessary. Start by donating furniture, clothes, or possessions that are no longer needed, and setting aside must-have items or those that have sentimental value. Keep in mind that downsizing senior living doesn’t mean getting rid of things you love — it just means paring down your possessions to just those that are useful or meaningful.
- Focus on the benefits of a move. Moving can be stressful and overwhelming, particularly if you’ve lived in the same place for a long time or have a lot of positive associations built up around your home. However, a move can also be an opportunity for positive change, including cultivating a new space for yourself, meeting new people, and maintaining a balance between independence and care. It’s a good idea to keep a positive attitude about a move and remember the many benefits of such a transition.
After the move
It’s important to remember that it can take a while to adjust to your new environment after any move. After a move is complete, everything will be new: new place, new people and new routines. Here are our recommendations for making your move as smooth as possible:
- Get set up for success. Take time to get properly settled. Decorate your new space and make it as comforting and familiar as possible, which will make it feel like home much more quickly. This will also make the transition less disorienting and confusing.
- Call or visit often. Familiar faces and voices can make a stressful transition much easier to handle. We encourage family and friends to call or visit often. And seniors are encouraged to reach out and connect whenever they feel the need for some familiar company.
- Be patient with yourself. Keep in mind that adjusting to a significant change like a move takes time.