The Ultimate Guide To Moving into A Retirement Community (And A Checklist)

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The weeks leading up to a move can be an exciting time, filled with dreams of a bright, new future.  It can also be a rollercoaster of emotions.

Sorting through closets and years of memories.  Deciding what to bring and what to discard, – not to mention the cleaning and packing – can make the change and uncertainty that comes along with moving  difficult  for older adults to process.

For those who are leaving the family home behind, it can seem as though they are leaving a lifetime of happy memories.  Here are some tips to help you, your family member, friend or loved one shift the focus to the positives and smooth the transition to a retirement community.

Making the Transition to Senior Living Seamless

A great way to introduce yourself to the residence, many senior communities in Canada offer short or trial stays. These can be an opportunity to get a feel for the residence, the other tenants, explore the lifestyle, and even forge early friendships. During your short stay, try to meet as many key members of staff as possible.  That way, they can start to get to know your needs and preferences ahead of move-in, which would help them make suggestions on how to make the transition easier.

Tips To Help Make Your Move Easier

Sun filled living area with grey couches and glass coffee table.

Tip 1: Once you’ve decided on a residence and secured movers to help on the big day, the next step is to familiarize yourself with the residence’s admissions process.  Go over what time staff will be expecting you and see whether staff will be on-hand to hand to assist with the move. To save time – and potential stress – on move-in day, ask if you can fill in any required forms beforehand.

Tip 2: It’s all about the details! Before the move-in day, be sure to take one final visit to the residence. During the preliminary trip to your new home, take or obtain measurements of each room so that you can plan what pieces of furniture will go where. This will help make for easier packing, and an easier move.

Tip 3: Make time to reminisce. Knowing that you’ll have to part with many of your cherished possessions and leave familiar places is never easy. However, you can make it less stressful by taking the time to reminisce while packing your keepsakes. It’s also a good time to remind yourself that you’re not leaving behind the memories, you’re just starting a new chapter where you’ll be able to create some new ones.

Tip 4: When moving from your family home to a retirement residence, there will be a shift in familiarity. We all have little habits such as automatically reaching for light switches, or a favourite shelf where we keep photo albums.  This familiarity is lost after a move to a new place. With that in mind, to ease this change, try to mimic the layout of your home as much as possible. Plan on placing furniture in similar positions to your last home.

The Ultimate Moving Checklist

To help you break tasks into manageable steps – so you can get to the best part of moving: enjoying the many benefits of retirement living –  we’ve created this handy seniors’ moving checklist for you to download.  It includes:

  • Two months before moving: Learn key tasks to do well in advance, such as booking a reputable moving company.
  • One month before moving: Aside from packing, now’s the time to donate unwanted items, organize essential documents, and notify people and institutions about your move.
  • Two weeks before moving: Remember to confirm movers and continue packing.
  • Moving day: Pack last minute essentials, walk through your old home with moves, and arrive at your new home.

Rest assured, within weeks of having moved, most seniors say that they wish they had done it sooner. They end up loving the renewed simplicity of their lives in a retirement community. They make new friends with fellow residents and with the caring staff.

Welcoming New Residents to Senior Living

New residents often wonder how the dining room works, what activities they should try first, and how to sign up for transportation to fun excursions or medical appointments.

To help ease the transition and encourage the interpersonal interactions that research has shown to be vital to maintaining mental and emotional well-being in seniors, All Seniors Care residences  have welcome programs designed to help ensure the move to a community is stress-free. Here are just a few.

Greeting newcomers with a Welcome Basket

It’s always nice to have something to snack on after a big move. Baskets like those provided by Seine River, our assisted living facility in Winnipeg can include flowers, basket of local goodies or a special treat from the chef. All new residents are provided a list of the activities and events that the community hosts for residents, along with the dining schedule and any staff contact information that residents need.

They also offer a little box of goodies for residents that do an internal move. On the box it says, “Thank you for being a “key” part of our lives”!

Resident Welcoming Committee

Current residents love welcoming new people to the community! Ambassadors are paired with newcomers to orient them to activities they may want to try, introduce them to neighbors, and dine with them. Programs like the one at the Fox Hollow retirement home in London, ON find that matching newcomers with current residents who have similar interests often results in a lasting connection.

Meet and Greet Happy Hour

Our retirement homes in Ottawa host a weekly social hour where current and new residents can meet in a casual environment. If health restrictions allow, family members are sometimes invited to join in the festivities to help make the event more comfortable.

Moving into a seniors community is a big change, and there will be lots of questions to answer before helping your loved ones make the move. You and your family are always welcome to visit any All Seniors Care Living Centres across Canada, ask questions, and tour the facility.

Download our Checklist for Moving Into a Retirement Residence.

Writer – Julianna McLeod

Julianna is a health and wellness expert at All Seniors Care. Her mission is to create content that empowers seniors to form sustainable solutions for lasting health and happiness. She is an experienced writer, editor, and Recreational Therapist living in Toronto.

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