In the past, many seniors started thinking about retirement living once it became a necessity; for instance, after a health scare, or a spouse passing away. But these days, many begin planning the move much earlier – especially when independent living is an option on the table. Perhaps they want to unburden their families, or maybe they crave a healthier, more vibrant lifestyle and social existence.
Whatever your reasons, read on for some tips to help ease the decision, and the process of making the big move.
How to make the decision
Are you having trouble deciding if senior living is right for you, right now? Sit down and make a list of the recent changes and circumstances making you wonder whether your current living situation is working. Discuss your list with loved ones. Your reasons might include:
- A recent decline in health
- Loneliness; perhaps friends and family have recently moved away
- Changes in your neighbourhood
- An increased desire for safety and security
- The loss of your driver’s license, or difficulty getting around
- Challenges keeping up with yard work, home maintenance, housework, laundry or meals
Weighing your options
Start looking at retirement residences well before you plan to move. You don’t want to rush your choice! Be sure to check out each prospective community’s full range of services. For instance, at PARC Retirement Living communities, there are a huge range of amenities, fitness classes and recreational programs. Not all residences are created equal! Also take in the social scene at each residence. You want to be sure you’re joining a healthy community with plenty of opportunities for friendship, cultural outings and excursions. PARC remains fully functional with strict health, sanitization and safety protocols in place and to ensure we are extra safe, 99% of our residents and 100% of our employees have received the 1st dose of the vaccine.
If possible, consider doing an overnight trial stay to get a real taste of your future home. PARC goes beyond the “trial stay” concept by offering prospective residents stays of two weeks up to a month. Best of all, the PARC Experience is totally complimentary, with no commitment required.
Here are a few things you should do during any residence tour or trial stay:
- Enjoy a meal with other residents and hear what they have to say
- Visit at different times of the day so you can experience the whole atmosphere
- Observe how the staff members interact with residents and colleagues
- Attend a social function or cultural event at the residence
- Ask for brochures and materials about the residence
- Talk to the residents and their families
- Obtain a checklist of what the residence offers
- Find out about fees and additional costs
Your Residence Tour Checklist
For comparison purposes, take notes on the following elements of each retirement community you are considering:
- Suite size, comfort and privacy
- Storage space
- Safety features
- Monthly rental fee
- Housekeeping and linen service
- Amenity spaces
- Services of visiting professionals
- Health, wellness and recreational programs
- Quality and variety of dining options
- Fitness activities
- Laundry facilities
- Recreational areas
- 24-hour staffing
- Security systems
- Additional services
- Overall location
- Access to shops and transit
- Proximity to medical services
- Beauty and barber shop
- Transportation to appointments
- Quality of building
- Presence of a guest suite
Organizing and downsizing
After you have decided where to move, you’ll need to downsize your belongings for your new space. It’s a big job, so give yourself plenty of time! Ask friends and family for help if you need it. PARC Retirement Living also has relationships with businesses that assist with transitions, including downsizing, packing, moving and unpacking.
As you work through the process, here are some practical tips to consider:
- Prepare yourself emotionally. Sorting memorabilia can trigger feelings and nostalgia, which is perfectly normal.
- Sort items into four piles: sell, donate, recycle and throw away. Use felt pens to label your boxes and bags with each of the four categories.
- Ask yourself, honestly, the last time you used each item and whether you will really have space for it in your new home.
- Set aside a box of special keepsakes for yourself that you can reflect on, and take photos out of frames to create an album.
- Hold a garage sale for leftover items or donate them to thrift stores or charitable organizations of your choice.
Bring large antiques to a dealer or an auction house. Consider listing your items on websites such as eBay and Craigslist.
- Work in one area or room at a time. Focus your attention on that space until you are finished, then move onto the next room.
Changing your address
Before you move, you’ll need to let businesses know where you are going – especially the services you use every month. Don’t forget:
- Utility companies (if not included)
- Cable TV and Internet companies
- Phone company
- Bank and financial planner
- Insurance companies (life, health, car)
- Credit card companies
- Doctor and dentist offices
- Government departments and agencies
- Charities you support
In case you miss something or someone, you can sign up for the affordable Canada Post mail forwarding service, for a duration of your choosing.
Selling your home
Marked by fond memories, your house is probably also your biggest asset. Making sure you get top dollar for your investment is extremely important, so you’ll want to work with a skilled realtor. If you need a referral, PARC works with several trusted realtors who specialize in working with seniors, and addressing the unique needs of aging adults who are moving into retirement communities.
Here are some helpful tips for selling your house:
- Interview a few realtors, choose one you’re confident will listen to your needs, get the results you expect and market your home well.
- Establish a fair asking price based on the market and recent sales in your area.
- Make simple improvements that will make your house more appealing to buyers.
- Consider a pre-sale inspection that will spot potential problems for buyers.
- Let your agent guide you through the offers so you can negotiate a fair deal.
- Remain patient during the process. You may want to inquire about moving into your residence early while waiting for your house sale to complete.
Packing for the move
Ideally, you will have downsized and sorted your belongings by this stage, so packing should be straightforward. It’s still a chore, however, and you may need professional assistance. Your PARC Retirement Living representative can recommend companies and supplies to help if required. Here are some tips to make packing more manageable:
- Use solid, heavy-duty boxes or plastic cartons
- Avoid using plastic bags for packing, as they tear easily
- Label boxes with contents and room destination
- Number your boxes and prepare a master list
- Use wardrobe cartons to move clothing
- Pack books in small boxes so the boxes are not too heavy
- Roll small items in coloured paper, so they can be found when unpacking
- Pack plates and picture frames vertically in boxes
- Put small boxes within larger ones, so they don’t get lost
- Repack electronics in original boxes if you have them
- Pack tools and screws in a special box, so you can find them in your new place
- Don’t pack valuable papers such as your passport and cheque book; instead keep them with you
- Finish packing before the movers arrive
Now that you have chosen your residence, downsized, sold your home and packed your belongings, you’re all ready to settle into your new residence. We hope it’s one that offers the community, independence and comfort you deserve. With any luck, we’ll be seeing you at PARC!