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Supporting Your Aging Parents in Their Move to Senior Living

Moving to senior living can be exciting, especially if your parents are still relatively active and independent. It’s a new chapter of life that provides opportunities and adventure while providing a lifestyle support system that can gracefully flex as your parents get older. However, as with any change, there can be some sadness and apprehension, too.

“Moving is often a physically and emotionally draining process, no matter how old or young you are,” says Kathleen Winn, Senior Advisor of Waterstone at the Circle. “Even when it’s something parents are looking forward to, moving to senior living can require love and support from their adult children to help make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.”

Kathleen says that it’s not uncommon for seniors to feel unexpected sadness and apprehension about leaving the home they’ve lived in for decades. Adult children may feel the same way. “It’s important to give you and your loved ones the chance to grieve the changes that are occurring and say goodbye to this chapter of life in their own way,” she says. “Time, patience and understanding are the keys to making the move to senior living successful.”


Be available to listen.

One of the biggest things that adult children can do, says Kathleen, is to be available and willing to help parents talk through the transition. “Some seniors may not have difficulty talking about how they are feeling, but some may need encouragement to work through any conflicting emotions they may have,” she says. These emotions can arise at any time, and may sometimes come out of the blue. The important thing is to listen without judgement and provide emotional support (and assistance if needed and required).


Pick the perfect place.

If your parents are still in the process of finding a community, offer to help them look for places and go with them on tours. Sometimes it’s good to have an extra set of eyes when you’re picking your forever home. You can offer to help search for different places that meet their requirements (this is good especially if Mom and Dad aren’t that technologically savvy) and even set up the initial tours. This gives you a chance to ask the staff your own questions and voice your own concerns.


Create a plan with them (if they’re willing).

Ask your parents if they would be willing to have you help them during the moving process. It’s possible they may say no, but it’s more than likely that they will embrace the assistance. It can be a great bonding experience for both you and them. Before you jump into any purging or packing, sit down with your parents and determine what steps need to take place. Do you have a floor plan, and if so, what rooms need to be furnished? When is a good time to downsize, pack and move? By putting together a structured timeline, you can see step-by-step what needs to happen (and get a rush from crossing things off the list, too).


Rally the troops.

Moving is a big job – and even if you’re helping out, you’ll need some helpers of your own. Ask your siblings and other close family members to pitch in where they can. This can mean taking a day to help pack, or researching moving companies or anything else that could be of assistance. Even younger children can help and participate. By making it a family affair, it can help ease the emotional stress of moving and make it a fun, celebratory time.


Downsize smartly.

Downsizing is usually the most extensive part of a move to senior living. This can take quite a long time, so you may want to break it up over the course of several weekends or several weeks. Together with your parents, go through the house item by item and assign everything to either a Keep, Donate or Pitch category. It’s often easiest to start with a smaller, less-used room (like a linen closet or the laundry room) that can get you and your parents in the groove and see progress quickly. Don’t rush through the process, either. Allow your parents to feel the attachment to the items and allow them to reminisce. You may find that you become sentimental over an item that you’ve unearthed that you haven’t seen in years. By giving yourself time to remember, share and enjoy those memories, you’ll be able to continue to move forward in a healthy way.


Get the house ready.

Once you’ve gone through the items in the house, it’s time to tackle the house itself. Whether it will be sold, rented or given to a family member, you’ll want to make sure that the house is cleaned and any necessary maintenance is completed. It’s best to take care of any issues you see sooner rather than later, because the last thing you want is for a sale to fall through because of contingencies from the buyers. Make a list of all the things that need work, and take care of the biggest ones.


Plan the move.

If your parents are moving to senior living, we’re guessing that you’ve long moved past the days of friends helping you move in exchange for pizza and beer. Even though it’s an expense, experts suggest hiring a full-service mover for your loved one, whether you’re moving across the country or just down the road. A full-service mover means that the movers pack the truck, transport and unload everything at the final destination. When you look at all the moving parts that have to take place, you may find that the cost is well worth it if you end up avoiding stress and heartache.


Be there before, during and after.

Being there with your parents for the actual, physical move is a wonderful gift – if you can make that happen, they will greatly appreciate all your support. You can help direct traffic, work with movers and generally make it easy for your mom and dad to get where they need to go. After your parents have moved in and had some time to settle, be sure to set up visits to see them in their new place. (Be sure to ask them what timeline works best for them.) Hopefully, by the time you visit them, they will have started making new friends and getting into the groove of the new community.


Luxury Senior Living in Boston

Waterstone at the Circle, located in Boston’s historic Cleveland Circle neighborhood, is more than just independent living in Boston … it's a sophisticated urban setting for today’s active seniors. Enjoy best-in-class service and an urban lifestyle with arts and cultural, and historical attractions right outside your front door. From high-end amenities to gourmet dining and more, experience the best of city and suburban life at our upscale senior living community located on the crossroads of Brookline and Chestnut Hill.

Elegant Independent Living Apartments

Each of our 92 independent living apartments is the height of luxury and modernity, with sophisticated design, upscale features and stunning views of the city. Create the urban senior living experience you want with one- or two-bedroom apartments, a variety of floor plans and monthly rentals.

Senior Living Supportive Services

As an over-62 community, residents may require support from time to time. That’s why we’ve developed an on-site coordinated care program, in cooperation with our premier community partners, that allows our independent living residents to receive the assistance they need.

The best part? Residents don’t have to leave our senior living community – or even their apartment – to receive high-quality support. They can receive the services they need, when they need it, in the comfort of their own homes or in our on-site therapy gym.

 Waterstone at the Circle is the opposite of retiring . . . it’s a place to enhance your active, on-the-go lifestyle. Call 617.431.1880 for more information or to schedule a visit to our premier Boston independent living community and discover The Circle lifestyle today!