Making the move to an assisted living community can be challenging for both seniors and their loved ones. This transition can be very emotional, which can make it difficult to plan. Oftentimes, seniors have to begin the process of downsizing their belongings in order to move into their new assisted living accommodations.
However, it can be an arduous undertaking. Here’s how we recommend you begin the process of downsizing before moving to an assisted living facility:
Make a plan
Sitting down together and creating a plan can remove some of the stress for anyone planning a move, especially a senior whose move means letting go of their connections to the past.
Where and when the move will take place is often where people start. This will help to create a timeline and set realistic goals. Creating a timeline can give other family members notice of when their help will be needed to help sort, pack, and remove any items that your loved one wishes them to have.
As you create your timeline, build in time to think through what is most important to them and the impact of coming across items of sentimental value. Be aware of any important paperwork that might be encountered. Limit packing and sorting times to short bursts of time rather than long extended days.
In talking out your timeline, think about who and how you will manage letting go of the various furnishings that your loved one may have. Will you need to contact an estate sale company or donate to an organization like Habitat for Humanity? Organizations like these need to know in advance in order to prepare.
Create a list before going through items
Before going through your loved one’s items, sit down and create a list of what is important for them to take with them. If you can, find out what the floor plan or spacing will be like where they are going. This will help you all in developing your list. Understand that space is limited and that will curtail the number and kind of items that they can bring.
Your list should include:
- Furnishings to take: Often facilities provide larger items such as a bed. However, lightweight items such as a bedside table, desk, or folding chairs will be useful and help to create a more homelike atmosphere.
- Linens and Towels
- Kitchenware and some small appliances such as a coffee pot if allowed.
- Small amounts of treasured items, photos, scrapbooks, and framed art
- Electronics such as a small television, laptop, or tablet
- Clothing, especially comfortable clothing
Visit your new home before move-in
Before moving in, visit the assisted living facility to visualize how your loved one’s belongings will fit into the space. Measure the room and either create or acquire a floor plan. Then, measure your loved one’s belongings and try to stage how they would best fit in with the floor plan. Since space is limited, multiuse furnishings such as small bedside dressers or storage ottomans can provide extra space for personal belongings. Remember that walkways should be kept clear of trip hazards.
Start with unsentimental items
How you start to downsize is, of course, up to you. However, many people find it easiest to start with decluttering items that are not sentimental. Going through, one room at a time can help to manage how overwhelming downsizing can be. Stick to the decluttering experts’ suggestions of dividing into groups of keep, donate, sell and throw away. If there is hesitation, find out why. Sometimes things that appear to be unsentimental to others are full of meaning to someone else.
Collecting memories and keepsakes
Letting go of keepsakes and family mementos can be an emotionally charged process. Caregivers can help loved ones downsize these items by creating scrapbooks and memory boxes for other family members. Creating archival boxes of family documents and memorabilia will make it easier for all to understand family history and decide what to hold on to.
Staying focused on the positive end goal
By focusing on the positive, you can help your loved one look forward to this move, rather than dwelling in the past. One benefit to focus on is relieving your loved one of the burden of property maintenance. Another is the relief from knowing that there will always be someone there to care for them and keep them safe. This is an opportunity to move to a lovely new space and at the same time give back to the community through their donations or helping another family get a new start.
Find ways to give back
This is the perfect time to help your loved ones think of the legacy they want to share with the community. What are their favorite charities or causes? Are they involved in particular clubs or groups or an active church member? Donations to organizations that have benefitted from your loved one’s interest before can continue to feel their impact through your donations. Consider whether there are furnishings that no longer work that could go to an organization like Habitat for Humanity? Craft supplies that could benefit a school? Plants and garden tools that would benefit a Garden Club? Books and magazines can be donated to local libraries.
Reinforce the positive changes to come
Whatever the experiences of your loved one in the past, helping them to think of this move as a new found opportunity to make like-minded friends, or enjoy activities designed for their interests, can help them to look forward rather than backwards.
Remind them of the benefits of things like wonderful dining experiences rather than the hassle of preparing meals and grocery shopping. Assisted living can offer peace of mind instead of struggling with daily living activities, property maintenance issues and safety concerns. Many assisted living facilities offer beautiful surroundings for walks, enjoying nature and an environment that caters to the needs of your loved one. Having that opportunity to enjoy natural surroundings is a blessing.
As you embark on this journey with your loved one, helping them to have something to look forward to can outweigh the things that you are all letting go of. Connect with us today to learn more about Bartram Lakes Assisted Living and plan a visit for your loved one.