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Ask an Expert: Easing the Transition to Independent Living

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Moving can be difficult at any stage of life, but it can be particularly daunting for older adults who have lived in the same home for many years. The emotional side of downsizing from a longtime home can keep older adults from moving to a smaller, easier-to-manage home that supports their ideal retirement lifestyle.

Additionally, the logistics involved in a major move are overwhelming for older adults and their families. Just the thought of having to sort, organize, and pack up decades worth of possessions can stop seniors from making the decision to move to independent living!

To help alleviate the stress of moving to independent living, retirement communities like Bethany Village have move-in coordinators on staff dedicated to making the transition to independent living easier for everyone involved.

To find out more about how move-in coordinators help seniors and their families, we recently sat down with Aimee Cunningham, Transitions Coordinator for Independent Living at Bethany Village. With a background in social work, Aimee has worked at Bethany Village for 17 years in several areas on campus, including long-term care, memory care, and the Bethany Rehabilitation Center. Now, as Transitions Coordinator, Aimee assists and supports residents and their families as they move into a new home or apartment at Bethany Village.

Read on to learn more from Aimee about the move-in process and what older adults and their families should consider when transitioning to an independent living community.

As Transitions Coordinator, what are some of the tasks you help residents with?

After a resident has decided to move to an independent living home or apartment at Bethany Village, my goal is to make their move seamless and easy. First, I will meet with residents and their families to gather their move-in details and create a timeline. This ensures everything stays on track for move-in day, which takes a big weight off their shoulders.

Next, I will meet with them to go through the layout and make design selections for their new apartment or home. For example, maybe they’d like to choose new paint, tile, countertops, cabinetry, or carpet. I help them choose from our selections and make their new space feel like home. At a minimum, every unit is professionally cleaned, recarpeted, and repainted before a new resident moves in.

From the time a resident decides to move to Bethany Village until their official move-in day, I work to ensure the transition is as stress-free as possible. I want to make sure the residents and their families understand that they are not alone in the process; I will be with them every step of the way to make it a positive experience!

Do you also help connect residents to professional move-in resources, such as moving companies, organizers, or interior designers?

Absolutely! There are several professional companies in the area we refer to new residents. These companies specialize in any and all aspects of the moving process, from downsizing and sorting through belongings to packing up and then unpacking and arranging everything into the resident’s new space. Some organizations can also help with estate sales or auctions, or assist in listing the resident’s old home. Working with a professional makes the entire moving experience so much easier, so I highly recommend it for at least one part of the moving process.

What should older adults bring when moving to independent living?

If you’re coming from a larger home to a smaller apartment, you’ll definitely need to cut down on some of your belongings. It’s not uncommon for residents to move in and realize they still need to downsize a little bit more. Maybe that means giving heirlooms to children or grandchildren or donating to charity. If you have a lot of items you need to “rehome,” holding an estate sale or auction can be a good idea.

However, just because you’re downsizing, it doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything. Bring the things that you really want to keep! It’s helpful to note that residents moving into an apartment at Bethany Village have access to a private storage area on campus that’s climate-controlled. These extra storage solutions allow residents to safely store things like Christmas decorations, out-of-season clothing, or golf clubs.

What should older adults and their families keep in mind when planning the move to independent living?

I would say, keep a positive outlook. While it can be hard to accept that you’ll have a different lifestyle when you move, realize that change is not a bad thing. At Bethany Village, you’re not just moving into a new home or apartment; you’re moving into a whole community! It’s more than a place to live – it’s also about the friendly neighbors you’ll meet and the fun activities and events you’ll enjoy. It’s about having the safety net of a nurse and security staff available 24/7 if you should need help. It’s about being a part of a warm, welcoming community. Be open to the change and all the opportunities you have to enjoy your retirement!

When is the best time to move to independent living?

Like anything, it’s different for everyone, but recently, we’ve seen residents choosing to come to independent living when they’re in their mid-60s to early 70s. They’re very active in their communities, and some might even still be holding a job. They see the value of moving to a continuing-care retirement community early, knowing that as they get older and their health care needs change, they won’t have to worry about moving again. I think it’s great to have this foresight. I believe choosing the move to Bethany Village is one of the best decisions older adults can make. It’s like a gift to their children because they can rest assured that their parent will be well taken care of, no matter what the future holds.

To find out more about Living at Bethany Village, please contact us today. We’d be happy to speak with you about our Independent Living options and schedule a tour of our beautiful campus!

Written by Bethany Village

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