Getting Your House Ready to Sell
There are several facets of getting your house ready when moving into senior living. For some residents, perhaps you’ve already moved into an apartment and have gone through the process of downsizing and selling your home. In those instances, the process of moving into senior living may be a bit easier. Still, you may need to consolidate your belongings a bit further.
But for many other residents, there are logistics involved when preparing your home and getting ready to move into senior living. It’s often nearly impossible to time the sale of your house to the day you move into your retirement community.
Our team at Magnolia Manor typically recommends beginning the process of preparing your home for the move as soon as you’ve decided to move into senior living. Selling a home can be a long process, and the earlier you begin that process, the less likely you are to have any stress about it as you prepare for the big day so you can enjoy your new home.
Going Through Belongings
The thought of sorting through belongings and parting ways with some of them can be a painful reality for many seniors. This is an understandably emotional part of the process for many residents!
Depending on your specific choice for senior living, you may be able to bring furniture with you into your new residence. But, the dimensions and amount of furniture you’re able to bring will likely vary widely based on the specific senior living community, your choice of residence size, and more.
Deciding on Furniture
Here at Magnolia Manor, we’re currently developing an online tool that will allow you to choose from thousands of furniture icons -- including chaise lounges, recliners, dressers, dining tables, sofas, and much more -- and place them into your specific residence type. You’ll be able to move them around and see what pieces of furniture and what layout of that furniture will work best in your new home. Imagine how much easier that will make the move-in process!
What to give to family
A lifetime of possessions and the memories associated with each item often fill a home, so in many cases moving into senior living requires a bit of downsizing. This is often one of the most difficult steps residents take.
It’s okay to feel emotional. Anyone would feel emotional in the same situation!
We recommend you begin sorting through your belongings as soon as you’ve made the decision to move. At a minimum, allow yourself a few months to go through the process, if time allows.
With some pieces of furniture, you may have had them in your home or within your family for many years or even decades. Parting with those pieces can be incredibly difficult. One recommendation we make quite often to residents who are having difficulty parting with furniture pieces is to give them away to family (more on that in the following pages!). The cost of a storage facility can add up quickly; and really, how much comfort and joy would your furniture be giving you in storage?
Rather than try to tackle your home at one time, consider starting in one room, or even one dresser/bureau or closet. It can be overwhelming to go through so many items at once!
If you can, take your time sorting through your belongings. Enjoy recalling the memories and thinking about the history that is attached to some of those objects.
As a first step, one of the easiest ways to downsize is to consider what pieces to give as gifts to family. In some cases, your family members may have put “claims” on some of your belongings years ago (in some families, this happens a lot with children!). Or you may have been thinking about leaving certain items to specific family members after you pass away.
Why not let them enjoy those items now? Then you can actually enjoy giving it away!
But if you haven’t already decided what items may go to whom, or if you don’t know which items are really desired by family members, what better way to celebrate your possessions and enjoy your family than to invite them over for a “Paring Down Party?”
One thing to keep in mind when giving items away to family: They may not want everything. In fact, your family members are probably dealing with their own clutter! Try not to take offense if your family isn’t clamoring to own all of your items. There are other options for downsizing your things once family has decided which items are best passed down.
What to donate
Once family has chosen from among your possessions, you may consider a yard sale or donating remaining items. Items that are particularly in need for donation include furniture, clothing, blankets, and other necessities that can help needy families and individuals who have fallen on hard times. What a wonderful legacy for your belongings to help someone in need!
If you’re worried about how you will transport any items you decide to donate, there are quite a few options that can alleviate the entire burden of donating:
The Salvation Army - In many cases, the Salvation Army will schedule a donation pickup at your home. To schedule a pickup, simply complete the form on this website and a member of the Salvation Army team will contact you to set the details.
Donation Town - This website will connect you to charities in your area that will pick up your donations. A “one-stop shop” of sorts to make the process a bit easier. This link will take you directly to resources here in Georgia.
What to throw away
In some cases, this may be the hardest step of all. You’ll likely be throwing away at least some of your possessions. Perhaps they are too worn out for someone else to enjoy, there are parts missing, or an item is broken. In those instances, throwing away items makes sense.
Do you really need it?
Are you having difficulty deciding what items you must keep, what to give away or donate, and especially what to throw away? It can be helpful to invite over friends or children to provide input and emotional support while sorting through possessions. And some of that support may be helping you realize when it no longer makes sense to keep an item. When sorting through possessions, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between items you care about and that have memories, and items you actually need. An outside perspective can help you make that important distinction -- and ultimately save you from moving unnecessary items into senior living. One way to help ease the burden of giving or throwing away possessions is by taking photographs of those items. Digital photo frames are a lovely gift from family and friends and can be loaded with pictures of some of your treasures.
In fact, printed photographs themselves are some of the items you may be struggling to throw or give away. One way to alleviate the emotional stress of losing your photographs is to host a photo scanning party with family or friends. Task one of your family members to bring a photo scanner (many families own one, or even have advanced scanning capabilities on their mobile phone or printer), then, enjoy laughing and reminiscing together as you scan those images together.
We’ve touched upon this several times already, but emotionally preparing for your move is an important part of moving into senior living. It’s important to acknowledge that your emotions are completely normal. You should be feeling a range of emotions. This is an exciting time; a time of change. And with change comes some reflection and difficulty. This change, however, brings with it the joy of new beginnings, new friendships, and a life that takes care of small details so you simply don’t have to anymore.
Talking through the many emotions you’re feeling can help in dealing with this transitional time. Our staff here at Magnolia Manor has provided comfort to many residents while preparing to move into one of our campuses. In fact, our chaplains are always available to meet with new residents and help them through the emotions of their move.
In some instances, however, speaking to a professional can help with the emotional stress of this transition. Don’t be afraid to talk to a therapist or doctor about your feelings.
Making a Checklist
One of the best ways to organize your thoughts and steps before moving into your new community is to prepare a checklist. Having a go-to printed resource on hand to refer to throughout the move-in process can help bring organization to a pretty busy and sometimes even hectic time.
Your checklist will be unique to your own situation and move. However, in addition to the items mentioned above, here are some elements we often see residents include on their lists:
- Mail or fax your physician medical evaluation
- Schedule an assessment meeting with an administrator
- Identify your truly most cherished possessions
- Create or print a floor plan layout of your new residence
- Sort items by their final destination (senior living, family, friends, donation, or trash)
- Determine your move-in date
- Determine your move-in team
- Change your mailing address with the post office
- Update your address and/or phone number with doctor’s offices
- Cancel your cable, newspaper and utilities
- Send a change of address to your magazine subscriptions, banks, and family and friends
- Pack and label boxes
Communication With Your Senior Living Community
Once your date is set and you’ve prepared for your move, you may be tempted to move your items a few at a time to ease the burden of one, large move. Or perhaps your children or grandchildren will be in town on certain dates to help you with your move.
In these instances, communicating with the admissions counselor from your retirement community is essential. They will ensure that your campus is ready for your arrival, and that you can be assisted wherever necessary during the process. Be aware, though, that because of liability reasons, most communities don’t allow you to move your belongings until you’ve signed an agreement and paid your first month’s rent.
Prepare a “First Night” Box
While you’re packing and preparing for your move, prepare a “first-night” box or bag that contains the essentials you’ll need for your first night in your new home. With all the action of moving, you may not have the energy (or the desire!) to unpack everything right away.
Packing a “first-night” box or bag ensures you have all of your essentials with you and at close access so you’re comfortable during your first night. Here are some items to consider including in this box:
- All of your medications
- A toothbrush and toothpaste (or denture-cleaning supplies)
- One or more fresh changes of clothes
- Pair of pajamas
- A hairbrush
- A towel and washcloth
- Clean sheets
- Your favorite pillow