Choosing a Facility
Although the ultimate decision on which retirement home you move into is up to you, involving your family in the decision making can take some of the stress and pressure off of you. When choosing between facilities, invite your family to take tours with you. Sit down over lunch or a cup of coffee after each tour and discuss the pros and cons of each place. Sometimes your family can think of other questions that you may not have considered, or may see a facility with a different point of view. Your family will also be your best advocate, especially the person you have chosen to have medical power of attorney, so making sure that everyone feels comfortable with your new home is of the utmost importance.
Having family members with you when touring and choosing a retirement home can also be helpful when deciding what to bring, as they can take measurements and ask questions about furniture and recommendations for personal items. Never underestimate the power of a family member taking notes!
Deciding What to Bring
When deciding what to bring with you when you move, one of the more difficult parts is knowing what to do with the things that you choose not to or simply can not bring with you. When making those hard decisions, knowing that family heirlooms (like jewelry or larger pieces of furniture) will be in safe hands can help ease some of that anxiety. If you can make the choice about where each piece is going to go when you can no longer keep it with you, it can help you to feel more in control of the situation. It also can help fend off personal arguments between family members after you move.
One of the more simple ways to do this is to put a sticker on the things that you need packed to come with you to the retirement home. This makes the next step of physically packing much easier, as it is clear which items need to go into boxes and which items can remain.
It is best to decide what you bring with you either by yourself or with your closest family members. Involving too many people in this process can get stressful and confusing, and encourages family infighting and bickering during a time that should be as calm and supportive as possible.
Packing and Moving
In many cases, the decision to move into a retirement home is due to declining health and/or physical status. That can also make the actual physical act of packing and moving incredibly difficult. This is another area where family can come in extremely handy. After the sorting and deciding is finish, enlist your family to help physically pack things into boxes and move them to either your new home or into storage. This minimizes the negative effects on your health as well as giving family who may feel helpless something to physically do.
If you think the actual moving process will be too emotionally demanding, ask another family member if they can take you out for lunch or to a movie while the moving process occurs. Some people find it difficult to watch their things be packed into boxes and moved out of their home, especially if it’s a home that they’ve been in for decades. Just getting out of the way and not having to watch it happen can do wonders for your emotional state.
And remember, the more family members that you can ask to help you move, the quicker it will get done! Make your move a big, positive event. Order a pizza for the people helping out, write personalized thank you cards, or do whatever else feels right. Cherish the time spent with family around you, and let them celebrate you.
Unpacking and Settling In
The same can be said for unpacking the boxes once you move into your new place. With a little direction, your family can be very helpful with hanging pictures on the wall, putting clothes away in the closet and dresser, and just generally get things situated. Don’t feel guilty about asking for things to be put away where you want them to be. Your family is there to help you!
As for the emotional process of settling into your new home, make sure that you set solid expectations with your family ahead of time about what you want from them in the days and weeks after your move. Some people prefer to be left alone to adjust independently after moving, while others depend on their family for emotional support. There is no right or wrong answer or way to feel, but spend some time prior to moving thinking about what you’re going to need so that you can advise your family. This will minimize arguments and hurt feelings, both yours and your families.
This is a part of moving that even family members who live too far away to physically help you move can participate in. If you are worried about feeling lonely or sad after all of the unpacking is done, knowing which family members you can call when you need a quick pick me up can help you feel less disconnected. Even a brief, five minute conversation with a loved one can make you feel much more positive.
Retirement Home Events
Many retirement homes have family friendly events scheduled throughout the month. Before your family leaves, look ahead at the events and try to schedule times for your family to come visit you. If you are able to know in advance when your family will be coming to visit you, it can make some of the more emotionally difficult times easier to bear. It also gives you something to look forward to, which can be an important part of making a smooth and easy transition from your previous home to a retirement community.
These events are especially important if you’re making the move around a holiday. The emotional repercussions of having your first holidays away from “home” can be incredibly difficult. If your family is not able to take you out of the retirement home, make sure they are aware of how important it is to you that they come visit. You can open presents together, eat a meal, or simply just sit and reminisce. What you do is up to you, but having your family physically present during these times is unparalleled.
So, whether your family lives in town or farther away, having them help you with everything from the big things like the physical move to the smaller things like taking you out to a nice lunch when you’re ready or just a simple phone call, involving them in the process of moving into a retirement home can be just as beneficial for them as it is for you. Remind yourself that they don’t just want to help, they often need to help. They love you and want to support you the best they can. That’s what family is for!