Transitioning To A New Life
There’s a lot to consider when discussing retirement living with your family, whether it’s independent living, personal care or even a nursing home. Once decided, you then should discuss what to expect when moving. Here are a few tips to help make the transition a smooth one for the resident and family.
Before the move:
Expect lingering anxiety
You’ve taken an important step in selecting a retirement living community. While you should be relieved with that decision, you or your loved one may feel anxious about the new lifestely or overwhelmed with the upcoming move (packing, movers, etc.). Acknowledge each worry and address it or talk openly about the change. Ignoring those feelings may mean they will re-appear at a later time, likely with more stress.
Think practically, yet sensitively
If moving from a family home, likely you or your loved one will need to downsize. Request the floor plan and room measurements from the staff. Consider this an opportunity to buy new furniture or decorations. Then be practical about what can fit and the ideal flow of the new residence. However also be sensitive that although some items may not fit logistically or be appropriate, they still may have sentimental value. Talk to other family members or friends about moving those items to their home to enjoy or even take a photo of it and keep in a place you or your loved will see often and reminisce.
Ask for help
The staff can suggest moving consultants and companies. These can be great resources, even just for peace of mind. Plan accordingly for the packing and actual moving, and be sure to include time to reflect upon those sentimental items.
Request an activities calendar and dining menu and review the first two weeks’ events and meals. This provides something to look forward to as well as assurance you or your loved one will have something enjoyable to do and eat those first few days.
Prepare for the unexpected
No move is 100% smooth and it may not go as expected, no matter how well you planned—logistically or emotionally. Just recognize that and address the issue as it occurs. The staff can be very helpful and may be able to provide additional resources like a hand truck, tool or tissue.
Plan extra time
It’s easier to plan for logistics than emotions. You may be able to estimate the amount of time to make the physical move, but you also should account for moments last spent in a family home and first entering into a new apartment.
Meet neighbors and staff
Before you begin to move your belongings, take a moment to meet the managers, caregivers (if applicable) and other staff members. Learn their names and roles and ask about any special updates happening that day (beyond what is included on the calendar). Then introduce yourself to neighbors. Ecumenical has a Hospitality Committee who greets all new residents and families and helps them feel welcome and get oriented.
Schedule the next visit
Before you or your family leaves, plan the next visit. Pick a specific community activity or a meal time. While you may need to run errands or attend appointments together, be sure also to include quality time on campus so everyone becomes acquainted with the community, staff and fellow residents.
After the move:
You or your loved one just made a big change. Acknowledge that. Adjustments may need to be made and former familiarities are no longer familiar, so give yourself permission to express any anxiety or confusion. Neighbors, staff and other family members can help.
You may have discussed information in the pre-move in meeting and at move-in. As you or your loved one are settling in, you may not recall those details. Just ask. Everyone was new at some point. You will soon find Ecumenical co-workers and neighbors are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.
It takes time to start a new routine, learn everyone’s name and remember where everything is. Give yourself or your family member time. And when in doubt, just ask.
Above all, remember that you made this decision for a reason. Embrace the change and the benefits you were seeking. This new lifestyle should mean fewer household burdens to manage or receiving support with what you or your loved one had been challenged.
We invite and encourage residents to bring their lives with them when they move to Ecumenical. Whether it’s gardening in our Butterfly Patch, crocheting lap robes for a local nursing home or planning the next holiday party as part of the Program and Event Planning Committee, we value our residents’ talents and interests and hope we can introduce them to more.