According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the senior population is expected to grow substantially in the coming years, reaching a projected 83.7 million U.S. adults aged 65 and older by 2050. That’s nearly double the estimated senior population in 2012: 43.1 million.
Many seniors opt to move for a variety of reasons as they grow older, such as downsizing, moving to a retirement community or independent living community for increased socialization, or moving to an assisted living community for those who require assistance with activities of daily living. After the decision to move to a senior living community comes the difficult and painstaking process of downsizing belongings, packing, and making the move.
Following is a resource guide created for seniors’ caretakers designed to provide moving advice that touches on the unique needs of seniors and their caregivers when moving to a senior living community.
Anyone who has moved knows too well how much forethought and planning goes into making the process run smoothly. For seniors’ caretakers, moving requires even more careful consideration and planning because it often means helping an elderly person with major downsizing. The following tips and resources provide advice on what to do before the move.
Check with the community about rules for moving and what you can and cannot bring. The rules about what possessions residents can and cannot bring, such as furniture and personal belongings, vary among the types of senior living communities as well as from individual community to community. Additionally, as this article notes, some furnishings and other items may be provided by the community. Knowing this in advance will prevent you from packing and moving items the person you’re caring for will not need.
Make a packing list. Once you understand the community’s policies and know what items are permitted and how much space is available in the living quarters, it’s time to make a packing list. Making a list will make it much easier to help the elderly person you care for sort through her belongings and determine what should be packed and what might be stored or sold. This article provides a comprehensive list of items seniors may want to pack for a move to a senior living community.
Decide what to sell, what to store, and what to give away. It’s often a positive experience for seniors to gift some of their more-valued possessions to friends or loved ones who can use them. Once you’ve made a packing list, you can help the senior you care for decide whether she’d like to give her possessions to family members, store, donate, or sell unneeded possessions. If any possessions exacerbate any health conditions, now is a great time to replace them. This article offers tips for downsizing belongings, considering the monthly costs of storage, and what questions to ask to determine what stays and what goes.
Label items with the owner’s name. In communal living environments, it’s possible for belongings to be misplaced. And with laundry services centralized in some senior living communities, personal items can sometimes be mixed up. This article offers tips for labeling clothing and other items before the move.
Make arrangements for needed services not provided by the senior living community. As a senior’s caretaker, you’re used to handling a range of duties such as visits to healthcare providers, grocery shopping, paying bills, picking up prescription medications, and even household chores. Find out what services are provided by the community and what responsibilities you will have as the caretaker after the senior moves. You may still be responsible for transportation for healthcare, for instance, or even for things like laundry, depending on the type of community. This article describes the various services and amenities offered by various types of senior living communities, but be sure to check with the community the senior is moving to for specific information.
Make arrangements to sell or rent the current residence. Moving to a senior living community means more than just packing up belongings; arrangements must also be made for the senior’s current residence. As this article suggests, it’s often less emotionally trying to move the senior before placing the home on the market.
Packing up belongings that took a lifetime to accumulate is no simple task. These tips will help you keep the effort organized and productive.
Start early and keep a slow-but-steady pace. Seniors have spent decades collecting a lifetime of possessions; packing it all up will be no single-day task. This article suggests starting early and working through the process over several months.
Take pictures to arrange items in a similar, familiar way. This article recommends taking photos of the senior’s present home so that you can help to make her new living space familiar and home-like by arranging items, such as family photos, in a similar fashion.
Pack an overnight bag. As this article points out, moving is exhausting. This is especially true for seniors who have made a major life decision and just sorted through a lifetime of personal belongings. If the senior you’re caring for may be too exhausted to unpack everything right away, an overnight bag is a lifesaver with all the essentials on-hand. The Best Move has a useful checklist including key items to pack in an overnight bag.
Focus on one area at a time. As this article suggests, packing becomes more organized when you focus on one area of the home at a time. For instance, focus on packing the kitchen or bathroom before moving on to bedrooms or the living room.
Label all boxes. To ease the process of unpacking and organizing in the senior’s new home, clearly label all boxes. This article suggests labeling both the tops and sides of boxes, the area of the home from which the items came, and including any special instructions such as "fragile," or "this end up."
Carefully pack breakables. Seniors moving to senior living communities are often taking a few select personal belongings that are significant to them; the last thing you want is a prized possession to end up broken during a move. This article offers valuable tips for packing breakables and fragile items, including the use of non-printed newspaper and bubble wrap, as well as packing heavier items in smaller boxes.
What to Do on Moving Day
Moving day for a senior is typically the culmination of months of planning and packing. While emotions may be running high, it’s your job as the senior’s caretaker to keep the effort running smoothly and without incident. These tips will help you make moving day a positive, organized experience.
Have someone present to supervise movers. Whether you’re relying on the help of the senior’s friends and family or you’ve enlisted a moving company, make sure someone is there to oversee the moving activities.
Mark and set aside items that should not be loaded. Keeping everything that goes separate from everything that stays or is being transported for donation or to storage ensures that you won’t be missing essential paperwork or the senior’s overnight bag, or worse, that the wrong boxes end up at the wrong locations.
Make a last pass through the empty home. Whether to have the senior you care for join you in a last walk-through depends on how they are handling the move emotionally. Regardless, someone who can quickly gauge anything that seems off or out of place should conduct a final walk-through and mark down final meter readings, as this article advises.
Aim for a stress-free moving day for the senior you care for. Moving day is an emotionally charged day for many seniors who are leaving the home they’ve known for many years. Keep the day as stress-free as possible with tips from this article. If the physical and emotional challenges of the move are too much for the elderly person you care for, you might consider having a trusted friend or relative keep her occupied elsewhere for the day while you handle the hands-on tasks.
Notify utilities, banks and financial services companies, and other entities of the senior’s new address. If you haven’t already done so prior to moving day, now is the time to complete change-of-address forms at the post office, notify the utility companies, banks, and other service providers of the move. As this guide suggests, it’s wise to ensure the electric company doesn’t cut power prior to the actual move or moving day can become rather inconvenient. This article contains a useful checklist of the many entities that should be notified of a change of address.
Get the senior organized and comfortable in her new space. Spend some time helping the senior get her personal belongings in the right places and making sure she’s able to navigate freely through her new living quarters. Make sure she knows how to reach the community’s staff if she needs assistance during her first few days. This article offers helpful tips for combating first-day jitters, such as finding the senior a buddy, making the space feel like home, and sharing her first meal with her in her new home.
Find Local Assistance
It’s important for seniors to have access to affordable senior housing options and the right resources and support services when moving to a senior living community or downsizing. Below is a list of organizations by city that strive to assist seniors in choosing the right housing options and making the move to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle long into their golden years.
Dallas Moving Assistance for Seniors and Senior Caregivers
Dallas County offers a number of housing programs for low-income residents and other residents, including senior citizens. This resource includes contact information for the county’s multiple housing programs.
The Dallas Housing Authority provides a number of resources for residents of the community, including assistance with home ownership and the management of high-rise buildings providing housing for the elderly.
The go-to nonprofit for aging services that assist and connect older adults to resources, opportunities, and independence, The Senior Source has served the greater Dallas area for more than five decades.
The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services helps seniors with minor home modifications to aid independence, such as wheelchair ramps, grab bars for bathrooms, and other modifications.
For larger home repairs and weatherization, help with utility bills, and emergency needs, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs provides assistance to qualifying elderly residents and other disadvantaged Texans.
Elder Options of Texas is a comprehensive resource for finding housing options for senior citizens, including 55+ communities, independent living, assisted living, and even services such as elder law attorneys.
Seniors on fixed incomes may qualify for Texas low-income housing programs. This resource lists low-income housing options in Texas.
The Texas Low Income Housing Information Service advocates for safe and clean housing for all Texans, provides education for communities on low-income housing and programs, and more.
The Dallas Seniors’ Guide offers an abundance of resources for Dallas senior citizens, including information on paying for long-term care, reverse mortgages, and resources on everything from Medicare and health insurance to estate planning and area leisure activities.
Dallas County Health and Human Services provides a complete listing of all Dallas area senior centers, which offer resources and socialization opportunities for Dallas seniors.
Senior Adult Services is a valuable news source offering information on home-delivered meals and other services useful for seniors and their caretakers in Dallas.
The Aging Services Council of Central Texas offers resources on elder health and wellness, aging in place, a neighborhood ambassador program, and more.
Moving Help for Seniors and Their Caregivers in New Orleans
NORDC offers a comprehensive listing of activities and recreation options for adults 18+ and seniors age 55 and older.
The New Orleans Council on Aging provides ample resources for seniors living in New Orleans, including a list of all the senior centers in the New Orleans area.
LA Housing Search makes it easy to find housing in Louisiana.
The Housing Authority of New Orleans offers several programs to aid homeowners, including low-income families, people with disabilities, and senior citizens.
The Senior Companion Program is an excellent resource for seniors who are living independently, bringing together volunteers age 55 and over with adults in their community who need assistance with activities of daily living.
Mercy Endeavors encourages older adults to live their lives to the fullest, offering services for disaster planning, information on Medicare and Medicaid, and other resources to help seniors maintain their independence.
The Shared Housing program of New Orleans helps older adults remain independent and in their own homes, offering services such as light housekeeping and companionship.
Repairs on Wheels provides low income seniors over age 55 with the opportunity to live with dignity in an independent setting through free or low-cost home repairs.
Catholic Charities provides programs and services for seniors and other individuals through programs like Foster Grandparents, Adult Day Health Care Centers, and PACE: Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly.
Seattle Moving Assistance and Resources for Seniors and Their Caretakers
The Seattle Housing Authority provides several programs to aid Seattle residents in securing safe and affordable housing, including the Seattle Senior Housing Program for the elderly.
The Senior Housing Assistance Group provides affordable housing options for seniors.
The Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens provides a wide variety of free resource information and referrals to older adults and their caretakers, as well as people with disabilities.
Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Lifelong Recreation Program
Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Lifelong Recreation Program provides fitness and social programs for adults age 50 and older.
A free resource to help you find a home within your budget in the state of Washington.
The Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP) is a service providing reduced fares on a variety of public transportation systems to senior riders (age 65 or older) as well as those with disabilities and Medicare card holders.
The Office of Housing provides funds to local affordable housing developers to promote the creation of rent-restricted housing for low-income households, including the elderly.
The Area Agency on Aging for Seattle and King County provides a multitude of resources and information for senior citizens in Seattle and King County.
Housing resources for low- and moderate-income families and individuals in East King County and the Greater Puget Sound area.
Catholic Community Services and Catholic Housing Services help extend independent living and promote physical and mental well-being for seniors and those with disabilities through a variety of services and programs.
San Diego Moving Assistance for Seniors and Their Caretakers in San Diego
The San Diego Housing Commission is a source of help and information for low-income families and seniors in San Diego, administering the federally supported Section 8 Housing Program, which provides rent subsidies for about 14,000 San Diego households, including qualifying seniors.
Funded by the City of Poway through community development block grants fund in partnership with the County of San Diego and the San Diego Housing Commission, the HomeShare program focuses on providing affordable housing by making use of existing housing stock.
The City of San Diego Park & Recreation Department offers a wide variety of senior services throughout the city, including dances, special events, annual trips, and more.
Serving Seniors operates an affordable housing complex for seniors and offers other support services for seniors in San Diego on fixed incomes and at risk of homelessness.
The San Diego Interfaith Housing Foundation (SDIHF) builds and manages affordable housing units throughout San Diego County, serving seniors, the disabled population, and low- and moderate-income families.
A free referral agency for seniors and their caretakers, the Senior Housing & Assisted Living Locator: California Registry is a comprehensive resource for finding senior housing options in the state.
Moving Help for Seniors and Their Caretakers in Denver
The Denver Housing Authority provides thousands of rental units, rental choice vouchers, and other assistance and services to seniors and Denver residents in need.
The Senior Assistance Center (SAC) provides financial assistance to seniors to prevent eviction, utility shutoff, and financial help for medical equipment, as well as a food bank, clothing, blankets, and other valuable services.
A source for low-income and subsidized rental housing in Denver.
The Archdiocese of Denver provides senior services in Denver and surrounding areas, such as companionship, linking seniors to community services, and more.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides financial assistance for securing safe, affordable housing for the elderly, disabled, and low-income families.
The Colorado Gerontological Society offers an abundance of services for seniors in Colorado ranging from holiday gift baskets to elder abuse reporting workshops, training for assisted living administrators, and more.
Moving Support Resources Serving Santa Fe
The Santa Fe County Housing Authority offers resources and support for low- to moderate-income families, including seniors, to help them secure safe and affordable housing.
Dedicated to promoting the independence and dignity of elders and individuals living with a disability, the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department is a robust resource for seniors and their caretakers.
The Division of Senior Services offers a variety of programs to senior citizens at five senior centers throughout the City of Santa Fe, helping seniors to remain active, independent members of the Santa Fe community.
Elders Getting Information and Services provides care management and care planning services to elders in Santa Fe and surrounding areas.
A non-profit, volunteer organization that provides supplemental food on a routine, scheduled basis to families, individuals and service organizations in need in the Santa Fe area.
Providing free, nutritious meals to homebound seniors in the Santa Fe area.
Moving Assistance for Seniors and Their Caretakers in Fort Collins
The Elder Care Network of Northern Colorado assists seniors by providing information, resources and support to caregivers and to professional service providers through a robust information and resource network.
A senior home care provider serving the Fort Collins area.
The Fort Collins Senior Center provides facilities, activities, and services to senior citizens in the Fort Collins area, including a gymnasium, fitness center, spa, auditorium, and more.
Providing seniors with companionship and other services in Larimer County.
The Larimer County Office on Aging provides resources and support to older adults (age 60 and older) in Larimer County.
A comprehensive guide to aging and disability resources serving Larimer County.
The United Way of Larimer County is a central resource connecting residents to charities and organizations offering a variety of supportive services.
Moving Support for Seniors and Their Caretakers in Boulder
This resource outlines the many programs and services available to adults and seniors in Boulder County.
The City of Boulder provides ample services for senior citizens, aiming to help them maintain healthy, active lifestyles.
Boulder County CareConnect provides comfort, security, and independence to seniors in Boulder County, CO.
Supported by the Boulder County ADRC – Aging and Disability Resources for Colorado, Aging and Disability Resources for Colorado provides information and referrals, options and benefits counseling for aging adults in Colorado.
The Boulder County Area Agency on Aging assesses the strengths and needs of older adults, facilitates strategic planning and implementation, funds and provides services to benefit older adults and their family caregivers, and a number of other resources and services for the elderly in Boulder County.
Boulder Housing Partners(BHP) is the housing authority for the City of Boulder, building and managing affordable housing options for low- to moderate-income families and individuals.
This guide is a robust resource for seniors and individuals with disabilities who need to research, identify, and locate the best housing options for their needs.
The City of Boulder – Division of Housing aims to provide safe, high-quality and affordable housing opportunities through funding assistance and other resources to seniors, low-income families, and individuals with disabilities in Boulder.
Boulder County Housing & Human Services focuses on helping older adults and other Boulder County residents live safely and independently in their communities.