Thankfully, the mind is there. The body? Not so much. The main vehicle of transportation is now a walker. The day has come to put our caring hands to work to design and thoughtfully plan for our ninety-three-year-old Mom’s move into assisted living.

As daunting as this task seems, I know that with the proper design, I can implement the plan to make this monumental move work. The design part is easy, the planning is much harder. It is my hope that these helpful hints can be useful for others when confronted with moving a loved one into Senior Living.

  1. Get a layout of the one room apartment. Part of the design was to keep the space open for Mom to easily maneuver her walker.
  2. Using your trusty tape measure and take the time to take measurements of all the furniture. This helps to decide what stays and what goes. After putting the design down on graph paper, you may want to re-measure. Moving Day is a beast, so this helps with no surprises!
  3. Part of the design plan is trying to add more storage wherever you can. I used the cedar chest for a coffee table. I also had some shelving retrofitted for another closet and purchased an armoire for coats and purses.
  4. Assign tasks to family members. Telephone company, electrical company, and post office, all need to be notified. Also, appointments for cable company need to be made to ensure that TV service is not interrupted. My go-to brother-in-law was in charge of hiding all the wires for the cable.
  5. Contact and interview moving companies. This is imperative as prices really are off the charts expensive. I chose to handle all the packing and labeling, and this saved a ton of money. The movers just hauled all the labeled boxes and furniture to the newly painted apartment.
  6. You can never have enough boxes and packing tape! The hard part was trying to get my Mom to purge! “Mom, you do not need 100 pairs of shoes!”  I told anyone that came to help pack, that if Mom says she wants you to have it no matter if you do not want it, TAKE IT!
  7. Purchase plastic containers to put articles under the bed. Also, I used laundry baskets and long hang up shoe racks to store all the shoes and make room for all the clothes in her one closet.
  8. Honor thy Mother! This is a very hard move and patience is so important. Her life as she knows it is changing traumatically. Going from a 5-bedroom home, to a one-bedroom condo and a car, to a walker and a one-room apartment with rules, can bring out the Irish in my Mom.
  9. Reach out to family members and ask them to please come and get what is not labeled for the move. Pots and pans, dishes, glassware, furniture, linens and more linens, and artwork were ready for the picking. Afterwards you may need to make a few calls to charities to come and pick up the leftovers, making sure you itemize each article for tax purposes.
  10. Packing can and will take longer than expected. I saw the big picture and knew, for Moving Day to go smoothly, everything had to be in order. The interesting part was listening to the stories that ensued when we opened the cedar chest or the photo albums revealing a trove of treasures.
  11. As you gear up for the final push to put your design and plan into action, assign more tasks to family members. Someone has to be in charge of Mom to make sure she is not under foot. Assign a person to each of the locations so the movers know for sure what goes and then where to put all the labeled furniture and boxes.
  12. Bring a tool box!! Purchase hardware for mirrors and pictures.It is my hope that these helpful hints can be useful for others when confronted with moving a loved one into Senior Living.
  13. Be prepared for tears. Mom escaped and showed up grateful for the busy bees that were pitching in to set up her bathroom, her small kitchenette, her closets, and put new linens on her bed.
  14. Assign someone to be in charge of food and water for EVERYONE! Set aside envelopes of money for the movers.
  15. Leave no stone unturned! We spent the rest of the weekend getting everything unpacked… curtains hung, one very big armoire put together, a wall of family pictures hung along with mirrors and artwork. Shower curtains and towels ready, and the all-important TV mounted and ready for Mom to chill in her recliner. Her sidekick walker had a clear path to the front door all in the hopes of keeping our Mom active.
  16. Get to know the staff along with their phone numbers or emails! Become the advocate your Mom needs!

Design and Planning is the key to any move. Today, we as a family can now lay our heads on our pillows and know – “our Mom is safe and in caring hands in a place surrounded by the warmth of familiar treasures.”


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