Helping a parent plan to move to a senior living community can feel daunting. There are many decisions to make about where to move, when to transition, and what to take or sell. Lenbrook Resident Marlyn Blackwell and her daughter Leigh Ann Ayres share their tips about making the planning and moving process as smooth as possible.
Talk about options and assure your parent that the choice is theirs.
“My brothers, who live in Texas, and I who live in Atlanta, felt that at some point Mom would need to move to live closer to one of us, since there was no family remaining in Arkansas, and our father had passed away,” Leigh Ann said. “I certainly did not want to push Mom into any decision. I wanted it to be completely her call and 100% on her timing.”
Leigh Ann lives across the street from Lenbrook, so considering the community for her mom was easy. “I can simply walk down to the end of my street, cross Peachtree Road, and I am at Lenbrook! When Mom started entertaining the notion of one day moving to Atlanta, I had her come for a ‘tour trip’,” she said.
Visit communities and make a list of pros and cons.
Once you and your parent have identified options, visit to see how you think and feel about them.
“It’s like taking your children on a grueling college campus road trip trying to visit as many campuses as you possibly could fit in,” Leigh Ann said.
“It was exhausting, but each tour, we wrote down our pros and cons so we could keep each one straight in our mind,” Marlyn added.
Visit communities more than once.
After the initial visits, Marlyn returned to Arkansas with a narrowed-down list of three communities and made plans to visit again. Ultimately, she and Leigh Ann visited Lenbrook five times, and both liked it. Leigh Ann loved the idea of her mom being close by and how vibrant and alive the atmosphere was. Marlyn also noted the positive feeling she got at Lenbrook.
“There always seemed to be a lot of energy,” Marlyn said.
Meet current residents.
Talking with residents is a great way to learn why they chose the community and what they value.
“Our Residency Counselor, Cathy Torbush, invited Mom over to meet with two of the residents,” Leigh Ann said. “One was a retired nurse, and Mom had been a nurse. The other lady was married to an Orthopedic Surgeon, and my father had been just that. These two ladies could not have been more warm, kind, welcoming, and encouraging. That day really helped Mom feel comfortable and see herself at Lenbrook as her next home. It also was great that one of them came of out of state, which was reassuring to Mom.”
Don’t rush the decision about when to move.
Leigh Ann noted that she worked hard not to be the decision maker about when to move.
“The move needs to be 100% on your parents’ timetable. They need to be at peace with the move and not feel they were pressured into moving. It is such an emotional decision and gut wrenching to uproot and leave friends you love, and it really has to be when the parent is ready.”
The parent should pick out their floor plan.
Parents should make the floor plan choice that feels right to them.
“My brothers and I thought Mom would be happier in a bigger residence,” Leigh Ann said. “We talked to her several times about looking at larger options, but she knew what she wanted and is thrilled with it. We were not going to be living there, after all!”
Plan for what the parent will sell, give away, or take when they move.
Use the floor plan in making decisions about what belongings should make the move.
“I used a floor plan of the residence that Mom would be moving into to help her decide which pieces of furniture would fit and which would not,” Leigh Ann said. “I drew them in the plan so she could visualize it. We also took a photo of every piece of furniture, lamp, painting, rug, etc. and made a three-ring binder. Mom added the measurements of each piece. The book was our brain! I continued to use it to file orders for draperies, hardware, lighting, wallpaper samples, etc. and kept all notes, resources, and contacts about Mom’s unit there.”
Marlyn and Leigh inventoried each piece of her silver, china, and crystal, and took pictures of them.
“My daughter made a spread sheet of columns titled ‘Moving to Atlanta,’ ‘Giving Away,’ ‘Selling,’ and ‘Passing Along to Children.’ This helped me start thinking about where things were going to end up,” Marlyn said.
That process made it easy for everyone when it came time to prepare to move.
“I sent those photos to my brothers so they could start seeing what things Mom had that they might enjoy,” Leigh Ann said. “We gathered one weekend in Arkansas and saw that Mom had not only pulled out every piece of silver – more than 100 – but polished them too! We took turns choosing items that we wanted for our or our children’s homes. We got boxes and packed it up by the end of the weekend.”
Rely on the community’s resources.
Marlyn and Leigh Ann also advise relying on the people and resources the Lenbrook community offers.
“Lenbrook Interior Design Specialist, Kelly Almond, and their Construction Contractor, Micheal Cash, are the busiest people in the world, but they will stop everything to help you,” Leigh Ann said. “They are incredible!”
Marlyn noted how helpful the moving company was.
“Carol with Blue Sky Moving (one of Lenbrook’s preferred Move Managers) was wonderful,” she said. “Once the moving vans arrived at Lenbrook, she and her magical crew unpacked and made moving a true joy. They lined my shelves and organized my closets. And we walked into fresh flowers, a bottle of champagne, and a beautifully arranged home. It truly was magical!”