Preparing for Your Move to Senior Living

In the course of their retirement planning, many older adults say their future plan is to move into an independent living community. With this one big decision made, they’re free to check “retirement planning” off their list, kick back, and relax. Right?

Well, that depends on the many other decisions they must make afterwards. 

Before we go any further, kudos to you if you’ve already selected your independent living community (if you haven’t settled on one yet or don’t know where to start, Tacoma’s premier Life Plan Community, eliseo, is happy to help). After all, it’s the most important choice to be made. But it’s only the first decision in a series of them. 

Instead of feeling overwhelmed, we recommend using this instructive “moving to independent living” checklist. We’ve put it together to help you break down all the decisions you’ll need to make into a series of digestible, manageable steps. 

Senior living checklist

  1. Find the right independent living community for you. You might think “retirement planning” is all about being financially secure the rest of your life, and that’s a big part of it, but it’s not the only consideration. What about being secure in how and where you’ll live in retirement? 

Your plan may be to stay in your home the rest of your life, but your home may not always meet all your needs and wants. For example, ask yourself these questions:

  • If you no longer want to cook or clean — do you have someone to do that for you?
  • If you don’t want to be responsible for maintenance or lawn care — do you have reliable help?
  • If you want to stay social, active, and engaged — do you have friends close by whose company you can enjoy any time?
  • If you can no longer drive — will you have transportation when you need it?
  • If you need some sort of care, like getting dressed, bathing, or taking medication — can you find professional assistance?

These are exactly the types of questions you’ll want to have answered before you decide whether you can truly stay at home or move on to choose the community that’s perfect for you. Which leads to your next step.

  1. Visit the independent living communities you’re interested in. There are all types of senior living communities available in the Tacoma, WA, area. Do your research by reading community websites, talking with friends and family, then scheduling in-person tours. Compare all the different services, amenities, and common spaces at each of the independent living communities. Ask the community’s senior living counselor if you can talk with current residents. Try at least one lunch and dinner in the dining room to get an idea of the menus. If the community has a guest suite, ask if you can spend a night (or two) in the community to experience a “day in the life” as a resident.
  1. Choose your residence. Once you’ve narrowed down your options to two or three communities, look at the residence choices available to you. Do you want a studio or multiple bedrooms and bathrooms? Is a private outdoor space, such as a patio or balcony, important to you? 

Selecting your residence is part of the reason you’re choosing one community over another. You want to make sure you feel fully at home. So make sure your new residence fits your space requirements, because the next step requires a bit of planning.

  1. Identify what furnishings and other belongings are coming with you. If you’re moving from a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home with a basement and two-car garage into a one-bed, one-bath apartment, something’s gotta go. Actually, a lot will need to go.

Ask your new independent living community for a floor plan of your new apartment so you can measure out your existing furniture for fit and placement. Also, ask your community if they have a relocation manager or if they offer some sort of moving assistance. Either way, you’re now ready for the next step.

  1. It’s time to downsize. Not surprisingly, many older adults find this step to be the most difficult emotionally precisely because of all the decisions they have to make. They struggle to let go of furniture, home decorations, and other possessions that are tied to so many good memories. 

Yet it doesn’t need to be a heart wrenching experience. Start early and take your time. Go through one room at a time, and don’t move on until you’ve placed everything in that room in one of four categories: KEEP, SELL, GIVE AWAY, TOSS. Your goal is to have as few things in your KEEP category as possible — and if the items you’re keeping don’t fit in your new residence or don’t bring you happiness, let it go.

If it helps you, recruit family members or professionals to help you decide what to keep, what to donate, what to sell, and what to give away. More than anything, set a realistic timeline for yourself — for example, two to three days per room, four to six days each for the garage, basement, and attic — and go through everything. Give yourself time to evaluate and reminisce, if you need to, then move on. Just don’t hang on to something and move it to your next home, thinking you’ll deal with it later. 

  1. Rent or sell your house — or turn your keys over to family. This is a big one. Do you plan to find a realtor to help stage and sell your home? Or do you plan to sell it yourself as a For Sale By Owner? Will you hold onto your home and rent it? Or do you plan to have an adult child move in? Whatever you opt to do with your home, be sure that you’re comfortable with the decision emotionally and financially.
  1. Take care of your healthcare. In all the planning and moving hubbub, it’s easy to forget that you’ll need to inform all your healthcare professionals of your move. Call your primary care physician and ask that any necessary medical records be shared with healthcare staff at your new community. Put together a full list of all medications you’re taking, and talk with your pharmacist about which prescriptions you need to inform your community’s healthcare professionals. If you’re relocating, you’ll need to ask your current primary care physician if they can refer you to a new practitioner; ask your pharmacist to do the same.
  1. Plan ahead for your big day. Before your moving day arrives and everything’s already packed away, set aside and pack in an overnight bag some items you’ll want to have with you when you walk in the front door of your new home. These items may include:
  • A fresh change of clothes, along with pajamas
  • House slippers and walking shoes
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, makeup, razor, shaving cream, etc.)
  • Phone, wallet, purse, eyeglasses
  • Alarm clock
  • A book, some magazines or a small hobby item, such as knitting needles and yarn or a deck of playing cards

You may want to have a friend or family member accompany you on the day of your move. And the day before your move, call your new community to ensure there are no last-minute updates or changes you’ll need to know about before you arrive.

There are other decisions to make beyond these eight steps on the checklist, of course. But once you start working your way through the list, hopefully you’ll discover that each decision and each step is leading you to the happier, healthier, and truly carefree retirement lifestyle you’ve been planning for.

If you’re ready to prepare for your move to an independent living community like eliseo®, here’s your first step: Contact us today. Our senior living professionals are ready to answer all your questions, help you find the residence that will fit you perfectly, and introduce you to a community of residents happily living the best stage of their retirement — here at eliseo.