Garden of Palms

Smoothing the Move to Assisted Living

by Christine Edwards

How to have a hassle-free transition 0614_couple-packing When Kathy Michalek thinks back to the move from the house where she and her husband Mitch raised four kids, she remembers that, “The hardest things about moving were all the memories and leaving behind all the work we did to make the place just perfect for us.” There’s no question that it can be difficult to move away from emotional ties, but the good thing about memories is you get to take them with you, and they don’t take up space in a moving van.

But memories aren’t the only things that accumulate over the years. When the time comes to move out of the family home, many find their attics and closets stacked to the rafters with items tucked away over decades. The effort to downsize from a family home to an assisted living facility can be so overwhelming that it’s difficult to know where to begin.

This is a road often traveled, and those who’ve already trekked it have suggestions about how to make the trip less daunting. Both Michalek and Michelle Lewis, who moved last year from homes they’d lived in for decades, banked valuable advice that can make your transition less cumbersome.

Security was important to Michelle when she sold her home of 22 years. To ensure that her treasured possessions were safe until she was fully ready to transition, she began by renting temporary climate-controlled storage near her new residence. She then held yard sales to sell unwanted items, but sadly, Mother Nature was uncooperative. Remembering that with more time and better weather she could have sold more rather than having to donate it, Michelle suggests planning yard sales in advance.

eBay and local consignments shops are good options for selling valuable pieces, and buyers will pay top dollar for collectibles, but the selling process can take time. For faster results, professionals can be hired to hold estate sales, but it’s important to do your research before choosing an estate sale company. However, Michelle saved 30 to 40 percent in commissions by doing it herself. Remaining items can be donated and some organizations, including the Vietnam Veterans of America, will pick up for free.

Michelle hunted for packing supplies for six weeks prior to her move. She found sturdy boxes at garage sales and grocery stores, and collected newspapers for packing. Newsprint rubs off on figurines, so those she packed in bubble wrap, which she readily found for a good price online.

While Michelle took advantage of U-Haul’s “Take a Box, Leave a Box” program, which allows customers to donate used boxes, Kathy Michalek reused her own boxes by making extra trips, thus saving money on packing supplies. Large boxes aren’t much more expensive than smaller ones, so Kathy purchased large boxes but found them unwieldy to carry, so she cut the large boxes in half and taped up the ends, making two smaller boxes. “The boxes didn’t have lids, but were still perfect for books and pans,” she says.

If your property is going to be empty for a while, leave an inside light on a timer and, if possible, a vehicle in the driveway to deter unwelcome visitors. Wait until the night before the move to set out large amounts of trash. Don’t let the yard become overgrown or circulars accumulate on the doorstep. Check in on the property regularly and keep on all utilities.

When showing your house to potential buyers, first remove your treasured possession. After something went missing from Michelle’s home while it was being shown to buyers, she cleared the residence completely, showed the home by appointment only and used a sign-in log. “You won’t know what’s missing until you go to look for it,” she said. “By then, it’s too late. Save yourself the headache and clean out the home out before they even get there.”

Moving is but one of many factors involved in making the transition to an assisted living facility. Affordability, cleanliness, onsite medical care and distance from family members should all be considered. Private facilities may not accept Medicaid, so funding methods must be determined in advance. Potential assisted living facilities should also be researched for records of elder abuse and malpractice claims to ensure the safety and well-being of loved ones. Linda Aurigema, who has worked in nursing homes, assisted living and hospice care facilities for more than 15 years, recommends that families take online virtual tours of care facilities to help with the decision process, and visit in person if possible. Most reputable residences are happy to not only give you a personal tour of the property, but also invite you to stay and share a meal.

There is no reason why moving into assisted living cannot be a smooth and enjoyable process. You’re neither the first nor the last to make the journey, so take advantage of the wisdom passed down by those who have preceded you.

Changing Your Address Doesn’t Have to be a Hassle laptop_man_smiling

Click on this link for information on how to change your address to avoid interruptions in mail service and important benefits:

  • Post Office
  • Social Security
  • Department of Veteran’s Affairs
  • DMV
  • State Election Office

Some other businesses that may need notification of your address change:

  • Businesses you frequent
  • Customer rewards programs
  • Medical providers
  • Clubs and organizations
  • Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
  • Utility companies (water, gas, electric)
  • Cell phone providers
  • Alumni organizations
  • Insurance providers

While it’s important to change your address with businesses and government offices, don’t forget to send out cards to your friends and family to let them know you’ve moved. After all, those are the people you most want to be able to find you.