The THHB September 2017 Dispatch
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Carers’ Guide to Moving Seniors Into an Establishment
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the senior population is expected to grow substantially in the coming years, reaching a projected 83.7 million U.S. adults aged 65 and older by 2050. That’s nearly double the estimated senior population in 2012: 43.1 million.

Carers' Guide to Moving Seniors Into an Establishment

Many seniors opt to move for a variety of reasons as they grow older, such as downsizing, moving to a retirement community or independent living community for increased socialization, or moving to an assisted living community for those who require assistance with activities of daily living. After the decision to move to a senior living community comes the difficult and painstaking process of downsizing belongings, packing, and making the move.

Following is a resource guide created for seniors’ caretakers designed to provide moving advice that touches on the unique needs of seniors and their caregivers when moving to a senior living community.

Pre-Move Checklist

Anyone who has moved knows too well how much forethought and planning goes into making the process run smoothly. For seniors’ caretakers, moving requires even more careful consideration and planning because it often means helping an elderly person with major downsizing. The following tips and resources provide advice on what to do before the move.

Check with the community about rules for moving and what you can and cannot bring. The rules about what possessions residents can and cannot bring, such as furniture and personal belongings, vary among the types of senior living communities as well as from individual community to community. Additionally, as this article notes, some furnishings and other items may be provided by the community. Knowing this in advance will prevent you from packing and moving items the person you’re caring for will not need.

Make a packing list. Once you understand the community’s policies and know what items are permitted and how much space is available in the living quarters, it’s time to make a packing list. Making a list will make it much easier to help the elderly person you care for sort through her belongings and determine what should be packed and what might be stored or sold. This article provides a comprehensive list of items seniors may want to pack for a move to a senior living community.

Decide what to sell, what to store, and what to give away. It’s often a positive experience for seniors to gift some of their more-valued possessions to friends or loved ones who can use them. Once you’ve made a packing list, you can help the senior you care for decide whether she’d like to give her possessions to family members, store, donate, or sell unneeded possessions. If any possessions exacerbate any health conditions, now is a great time to replace them. This article offers tips for downsizing belongings, considering the monthly costs of storage, and what questions to ask to determine what stays and what goes.

Label items with the owner’s name. In communal living environments, it’s possible for belongings to be misplaced. And with laundry services centralized in some senior living communities, personal items can sometimes be mixed up. This article offers tips for labeling clothing and other items before the move.

Make arrangements for needed services not provided by the senior living community. As a senior’s caretaker, you’re used to handling a range of duties such as visits to healthcare providers, grocery shopping, paying bills, picking up prescription medications, and even household chores. Find out what services are provided by the community and what responsibilities you will have as the caretaker after the senior moves. You may still be responsible for transportation for healthcare, for instance, or even for things like laundry, depending on the type of community. This article describes the various services and amenities offered by various types of senior living communities, but be sure to check with the community the senior is moving to for specific information.

Make arrangements to sell or rent the current residence. Moving to a senior living community means more than just packing up belongings; arrangements must also be made for the senior’s current residence. As this article suggests, it’s often less emotionally trying to move the senior before placing the home on the market.

Packing Tips

Packing up belongings that took a lifetime to accumulate is no simple task. These tips will help you keep the effort organized and productive.

Start early and keep a slow-but-steady pace. Seniors have spent decades collecting a lifetime of possessions; packing it all up will be no single-day task. This article suggests starting early and working through the process over several months.

Take pictures to arrange items in a similar, familiar way. This article recommends taking photos of the senior’s present home so that you can help to make her new living space familiar and home-like by arranging items, such as family photos, in a similar fashion.

Pack an overnight bag. As this article points out, moving is exhausting. This is especially true for seniors who have made a major life decision and just sorted through a lifetime of personal belongings. If the senior you’re caring for may be too exhausted to unpack everything right away, an overnight bag is a lifesaver with all the essentials on-hand. The Best Move has a useful checklist including key items to pack in an overnight bag.

Focus on one area at a time. As this article suggests, packing becomes more organized when you focus on one area of the home at a time. For instance, focus on packing the kitchen or bathroom before moving on to bedrooms or the living room.

Label all boxes. To ease the process of unpacking and organizing in the senior’s new home, clearly label all boxes. This article suggests labeling both the tops and sides of boxes, the area of the home from which the items came, and including any special instructions such as “fragile,” or “this end up.”

Carefully pack breakables. Seniors moving to senior living communities are often taking a few select personal belongings that are significant to them; the last thing you want is a prized possession to end up broken during a move. This article offers valuable tips for packing breakables and fragile items, including the use of non-printed newspaper and bubble wrap, as well as packing heavier items in smaller boxes.

What to Do on Moving Day

Moving day for a senior is typically the culmination of months of planning and packing. While emotions may be running high, it’s your job as the senior’s caretaker to keep the effort running smoothly and without incident. These tips will help you make moving day a positive, organized experience.

Have someone present to supervise movers. Whether you’re relying on the help of the senior’s friends and family or you’ve enlisted a moving company, make sure someone is there to oversee the moving activities.

Mark and set aside items that should not be loaded. Keeping everything that goes separate from everything that stays or is being transported for donation or to storage ensures that you won’t be missing essential paperwork or the senior’s overnight bag, or worse, that the wrong boxes end up at the wrong locations.

Make a last pass through the empty home. Whether to have the senior you care for join you in a last walk-through depends on how they are handling the move emotionally. Regardless, someone who can quickly gauge anything that seems off or out of place should conduct a final walk-through and mark down final meter readings, as this article advises.

Aim for a stress-free moving day for the senior you care for. Moving day is an emotionally charged day for many seniors who are leaving the home they’ve known for many years. Keep the day as stress-free as possible with tips from this article. If the physical and emotional challenges of the move are too much for the elderly person you care for, you might consider having a trusted friend or relative keep her occupied elsewhere for the day while you handle the hands-on tasks.

Notify utilities, banks and financial services companies, and other entities of the senior’s new address. If you haven’t already done so prior to moving day, now is the time to complete change-of-address forms at the post office, notify the utility companies, banks, and other service providers of the move. As this guide suggests, it’s wise to ensure the electric company doesn’t cut power prior to the actual move or moving day can become rather inconvenient. This article contains a useful checklist of the many entities that should be notified of a change of address.

Get the senior organized and comfortable in her new space. Spend some time helping the senior get her personal belongings in the right places and making sure she’s able to navigate freely through her new living quarters. Make sure she knows how to reach the community’s staff if she needs assistance during her first few days. This article offers helpful tips for combating first-day jitters, such as finding the senior a buddy, making the space feel like home, and sharing her first meal with her in her new home.

Find Local Assistance

It’s important for seniors to have access to affordable senior housing options and the right resources and support services when moving to a senior living community or downsizing.

 

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