My grandmother is in her upper 90s and has been living in a retirement community for the past 12 years. The majority of her possessions from her previous home are in my father’s spare bedroom and garage. The boxes and furniture take up so much space that for more than a decade guests have been sleeping on the couch in my dad’s basement and he has been parking his car in his driveway.
I have asked repeatedly why he’s holding on to all of her things since she no longer needs her blender, coffee cups, or toilet scrub brush. I’ve never received an answer, and I’m not certain that he could give me one if I pressed him on it.
The process of moving a loved one into a retirement community or nursing home is an emotional undertaking for all involved. It wasn’t easy for my grandmother, an independent, spitfire of a woman, to give up her home of more than 50 years and move into a retirement community. And, it has been difficult on my dad and his siblings to accept the fact that she needed to move.
Many families are faced with similar situations as aging parents move into retirement communities and nursing homes. The transition is tough for all involved in the process.
Over the past decade, retirement communities and nursing homes across the U.S. have taken notice of the difficulties families face transitioning loved ones into their facilities and are doing what they can to make the process smoother. Many retirement communities now offer transition management services to their residents.
I spoke with a local nursing home administrator about what these services entail. In his facility, there are two, full-time transition managers who work with every new resident. They go into the residents’ family homes and help them clear clutter, sell/donate/give to family items that won’t move with them to their new home, and help the residents choose what they want to bring with them. The process takes weeks and is an emotional but usually positive experience.
If you’re faced with a situation of helping someone move into a retirement community or nursing home, be sure to inquire if the facility offers transition management services. If they do, talk with residents and children of residents to learn about the quality and value of these programs. If the facility doesn’t offer this service, I highly recommend contacting the National Association of Senior Move Managers. NASMM has a referral system to help you find move managers in your community. You also may want to review this resource list for books relating to this delicate subject.