Whether transitioning into an independent living community, assisted living or even a skilled nursing community, the process of moving into a senior living community can be daunting, not only for those making the change but also for family members. Make the transition as easy as possible with five basic steps.

1. Start the conversation early

Individuals often make the move into a senior living community as a result of a crisis, a fall or a health issue that makes living in a large home no longer manageable. When these health issues arise, decisions about downsizing belongings are often made in haste. Begin the conversation with your loved ones early, before there’s a need. Ask Mom if she would like to get together on a Saturday to sort through the attic. Or, ask generally about your loved one’s thoughts about senior living communities.

2. Recognize that smaller is sometimes better

Senior living communities and apartments will most likely be smaller than current living environments, which can be positive. As we age, we may find that a two-story, three bedroom home is too much to keep up. Let go of the guilt of Dad moving into a studio apartment and remember that less space means more manageable independence and offer greater safety.

3. Set a timeline and categorize

Downsizing belongings and determining what moves and what doesn’t can be emotionally and physically challenging. Tackle the issue by taking it slow—one room at a time. For each item, assign contents into categories: Move, Donate, Trash, Sell, Give to Family and Storage. Items that need to move into the new home should either be functional or help to make the new space feel like home. Kitchen items, clothing and linen sets are all items that can be easily downsized as meals and laundry services are often included in senior living communities.

4. Make it feel like home

Make sure at least one item of sentimental value, such as a chest of drawers, a familiar quilt or rocking chair is made a priority for the move. Recreate the look and feel of home by bringing photos and other décor to add to the walls.

5. Validate emotions

Moving into a new home or helping a loved one move into a new home is an emotional process. Understand that the piles you see as clutter may be precious memories to your loved one, or that seeing Mom and Dad move away from a childhood home can be tough. Don’t push or rush, and always ask for help when you need it.

Tabitha’s living communities offer support for families making the transition. Administrators and staff take the time to understand your current living needs and ensure residents are supported as much as possible during and after move-in. For more information about Tabitha’s 12 senior living communities, begin the conversation with a Tabitha Continuum Navigator by calling 402.486.8520 or visit www.Tabitha.org.