Let’s talk about moving for a minute. Was that you that groaned, or was that just the voice in my head? Some people like to move and embrace the change it signifies. Others prefer as little change as possible and dread the idea of moving. No matter which camp you fall into, the reality for nearly all of us is that we will likely need to move to another home as we get older. Some will move into the home of a family member while others will move to assisted living facilities or nursing homes. Often these homes will provide less space for our lifetime of accumulated stuff and require that we not only downsize our belongings but consider our changing ages and abilities as well. (Take a look at the bottom of this article for 10 Tips for Living in a Small Space taken from assistedlivingfacilities.org.) For these reasons, this particular move might be a bit a more emotional than the previous ones.
Moving involves a lot of emotion anyway
First, there are the emotions that come when preparing for the move. You might feel overwhelmed when you consider how much there is to pack. Each item will require you or a loved one to decide whether it will go to the new home or to a family member, put aside for a garage sale or donated to charity, which can be mentally taxing and tiring. You may also experience uncertainty or anxiety as you consider where or whether an item will fit in your new home. Let’s not forget, moving is physically tiring too as you pull things out, box them up and move them from room to room.
In this stage, it’s important to take your time and not rush the process. When you feel tired or overly stressed, it’s a good time to rest, have a drink or snack, change your activity to something less physically or emotionally taxing, or maybe even call it a day and not worry about it until tomorrow.
To help keep things manageable, consider applying a strategy to help you. One approach is to set reasonable portions of the house to be completed each day. By doing this, you’ll know what to expect each day and have an end point that marks your progress. Another idea might be to sort and pack what’s most important to you first, rather than going room by room. This approach would assure that your most beloved belongings have the highest priority in your new home. Or you could use a combination of the two – pack your cherished items first, then go room by room.
This move marks a life transition
The second and more unique aspect of this move is that it is likely due to a change in your own or a loved one’s physical or mental capabilities. Acknowledging this change can sometimes be hard and might be accompanied by concerns of diminished independence or freedom in the new home. You might experience a variety of emotions as you begin to consider this change, including uncertainty, sadness, fear, anger and depression.
It’s important when experiencing these emotions to share them with others. Often a close friend, family member or clergy can offer understanding and support. Also consider speaking to residents of the assisted living facility or nursing home who have already adapted to a new routine and who can empathize and share their experiences.
At the same time, recognize that similar to many other life transitions such as having children, changing jobs, moving to a new city and retiring, this change signals both an end and a beginning of something. Residence homes offer the possibility of new friendships and staff who are there to help you maintain as much independence and freedom as possible. Honoring the full breadth of our lives means respecting what is ending as well as looking toward the opportunities of the future.
Moving day and settling in: A community of support
During the actual move to a residential facility, have confidence that the staff is experienced, ready and willing to assist you. Don’t be shy about asking questions or seeking assistance. It’s their goal that your move be a positive experience.
After the move, it’s normal to want to stay in your home or room at first. However, getting familiar with your new surroundings and services, meeting others and participating in activities are the quickest ways to become comfortable with your new surroundings according to a survey of assisted living residents. Be sure to approach the experience with an open mind and look for new opportunities.
After some time – between 30 to 90 days – the stress of the move and the feelings of being overwhelmed and uncertain should begin to disappear as you establish a new routine. If you feel you’re taking longer to adjust than what you consider normal, you may benefit from discussing your concerns and feelings with the administrator or director of the residence, a friend, clergy or a professional counselor.
Know that at any time, you can Contact an eldercare advisor at Priority Placement Services to help you in this process.
10 Tips for Living in a Small Space
Whether you’re transitioning into assisted living or just downsizing to an apartment, odds are you have to sort through all the belongings you’ve held on to for years. There are several ways you can downsize and stay organized in your new space.
· Make a scrapbook: One of the hardest things to do is let go of the keepsakes that mean so much to you. Before you hand them down to family or friends, take pictures of your favorite items or take scraps of material from a favorite dress or quilt and keep them in an album. Downsizing doesn’t mean you have to throw your memories away.
· Go for multi-purpose furniture: Large trunks can serve as coffee tables as well as storage units while a futon can be both a couch and a guest bed.
· Think small: If furnishing your new residence yourself, switch from large, over-sized furniture to smaller ones. Find a love seat or a chair and a half sleeper instead of a full-sized couch.
· Maximize storage space: Utilize any hidden but unused spaces. Keep out-of-season clothing and holiday items in storage units under the bed. You can even hide items you don’t currently use in plain sight by purchasing decorative storage boxes and stacking them for use as an end table or nightstand.
· Use vertical space: Add extra shelving in closets and make use of floor-to-ceiling bookcases. Keep things you use less frequently on the highest shelves and keep a step stool or extended reach tool handy for easy access.
· Simplify: Don’t keep kitchen gadgets you don’t frequently use. Buy only one small set of dishes and use pots and pans that are multi-functional and high-quality. Ask yourself if you really need that 25-quart stock pot; it’s unlikely you’ll be cooking for a large group.
· Don’t buy new things: (That is, unless you really need them.) Make sure you have a place for everything you own and get rid of an item every time you add a new one.
· Don’t buy bulk: Resist the urge to shop at superstores. Instead, try shopping more frequently and buy fewer groceries. This will also ensure your groceries remain fresh.
· Minimize bathroom clutter: Use multi-purpose cleaners that will work on tiles, tubs, sinks and counter tops. Keep only two sets of linens and towels and wash them immediately so you always have a set ready to use. Keep toiletries from overrunning your space by keeping on hand only what fits in a basket or tote.
· Organize twice a year: Take stock of your wardrobe and closets in the spring and fall. Keep what you wear regularly, donate items that still have use and dispose of the rest.
By Cathy Chlarson, May 18, 2016
Resources: Arizona Seniors On The Move is a great local company that provides packing/unpacking and moving services to seniors at low prices. You may Contact them for more information.