My mother-in-law recently moved to a retirement living community for seniors. I have some tips to share today about how we all handled the process that might be helpful if you find yourself in this situation.
I think when it is time for me to move like this, I would love for my kids to go through this process with me the way we did here.
Hey kids....listen up! :-)
As a former decorator herself, my mother-in-law spent many years getting things just the way she wanted in her home, working in her garden, doing some projects all over the house, and it was hard to give that up.
She loved her home and we wanted to create a similar environment in her new place.
We took the process in stages over 4 months and found it helped us all stay focused and adjust to the new living arrangement.
The first obstacle was realizing that this was the new reality.
We all agreed on a great place, of course, nothing is perfect, but it is the best for her in this area. The apartments are really nice and outfitted for convenience, accessibility and a more downsized lifestyle.
A small kitchen, a washer and dryer in the unit, a nice walk in closet, and a patio with some outdoor storage were all nice features we appreciate in her new place.
One of the reasons you move to a community like this is for the amenities and support. A dining hall with prepared meals, transportation, activities and socialization, those are all very important and for most, are big reasons to move.
We found this community the best in our area for her and luckily it was super convenient. It's located just about a mile from our home and just a few blocks from her home that we are now putting on the market.
Location was a big issue for us, as she loved her neighborhood, has many friends there, and wanted to stay close.
Decorating the new place to feel like home
As a decorator, my mother-in-law was interested in how her apartment would look and function for her.
It was fun when we started talking about decorating the new place, after we had visited and toured. We began looking around her home, seeing what she would like to take and how it would be arranged and laid out.
Having lived overseas for about 15 or so years of her life and traveling extensively around the world, she has always had objects with a story. All of her art was either painted by her, a friend or teacher, or purchased when on a trip.
The new apartment is lovely and looks so much like her, just downsized a bit. She took her most treasured items and then we purchased a few new pieces to adjust to the size and scale of the place.
When downsizing for a move to senior living, I would suggest some of what we did.
- Get a view or idea of what living will be like in the new environment. Like any new home, the new homeowner or resident needs to feel like they can see themselves in the new space or environment. In my mother-in-law’s situation, she had been to this retirement community before. However, when looking at it as a possible home for her, we needed to see it with different eyes.
We viewed the different models and sizes and discussed how some of her furniture would fit into the space. It was exciting to sketch out a floor plan and talk about how she would be keeping some of her most treasured furnishings. We wanted this new place to feel like home and reflect her style and taste.
- Replace the bed. One of the advantages of scaling down for a single person is getting a smaller bed that would fit into the new place better. My mother-in-law had a king sized bed, so a new adjustable queen bed with a great new mattress was in order and a real treat. It even has a light you can turn on under the bed to help at night.
- Take things gradually. This was a big adjustment for everyone and we all needed time to get used to the idea and make plans. We reserved the new apartment and luckily, they had a 3 month window of time before locking in the booking for the one year lease. That made it easier to gradually move in and to see how she liked the new place before she made a big full on commitment.
- Get other family members involved if possible. My husband's brother and wife visited several times during this time and helped with the move and lots of details. My niece was here last weekend and helped with the final clean out of miscellaneous items. Other family members built a bookcase for her new apartment, sized just to fit what she needed.
- Downsizing the household. The first thing we did that took a lot of time, was going through to select what she wanted to take with her. We moved the major furniture pieces right away with a mover, but then did the rest throughout a 3 month period.
At the end, in the house, we were left with items she wanted to sell, donate, or give away to family and friends. We kept some of the bigger furniture items and some key accessories for staging the house, but the rest is gone now. We are about ready to put the house on the market.
This whole process was time consuming and a big job to go through, but we all know it will make for a better living situation overall.
My mother-in-law was part of the entire process, sorting and selecting, decorating the new place, etc. Her new apartment feels like her home, with her favorite pieces of art, furniture and decor surrounding her.