The task of setting up a new residence for your loved one begins well in advance of move day. Visits, if possible, to their new home to measure, plan the layout and make sure everything is in order will be helpful come moving day. Here are some tips on how to best set up your loved one’s new space and what to do to prepare.
See also: 10 tips for a manageable move.
Map It Out
Take some time to visit the new residence and draw a map, to scale, of the rooms. Be sure to include windows and doorways. Then, measure all furniture your loved one plans to keep and create movable pieces, also to scale, to place inside the map. Use this to decide what stays and what goes. If done properly, you’ll also figure out where each piece of furniture will fit and can create a list of any new furnishings necessary. Added bonus: this map can also be used to direct movers where to place items on moving day.
Visit and Revisit
If the home, unit or room your loved one is moving into requires renovations, stay on top of the owner/manager and pay a few visits before move-in day. Ideally, all will be ready for your loved one. Sometimes, though, deadlines are not met and new residents arrive to find a kitchen without countertops or a bathroom without a sink. Not ideal for the older adult who is transitioning into a new phase of life. A few calls to whoever is responsible will usually suffice, but in-person visits may be necessary if you’re at all concerned projects won’t wrap up in time.
Set Up Utilities in Advance
This may seem like a no-brainer, but in the grand scheme of a move it is sometimes these small tasks that are overlooked. When the goal is to ensure that your loved on is as comfortable in his or her new home as possible, making certain basic necessities like water, electricity and phone lines are arranged in advance is highly important. The first few days in a new setup can be very challenging to an older adult, so these comforts will go a long way.
Make the Layout Familiar
The move into a new home can be disorienting. To make the transition easier, set rooms up as they were in your loved one’s previous home if possible. Put couches in similar arrangements, phones and electronics in like spots and lamps where they were in the past. This goes for the kitchen, too. Put plates, glasses and mugs in the same general location as they were in your loved one’s old house. This will help reduce confusion in the beginning.
Keep Routines Intact
One of the hardest parts about a move is the disruption it causes to daily routines. For example, if your loved one enjoys listening to music during dinner, put the radio set at the top of your to-do list for move-in day. Or if he enjoys reading before bed, pack his current books and magazines with his necessities and make sure the bedroom is equipped with enough light for reading. These small comforts go a long way during the transition phase of a move.
What to Do First
If your loved one is planning to stay in his or her new place right away, be sure to make up the bed, set up the bathroom and arrange necessities in the kitchen first. Have fresh sheets and blankets ready to go before the move so the bed can be made the moment it’s set up. Next, arrange towels (also pre-washed), bath mats and toiletries in the bathroom. Lastly, in the kitchen unpack at least one set of utensils, one set of plates, three or four glasses and mugs for easy access during the first few days.
Understanding the emotions your loved one is feeling is the greatest gesture you can make during this time. For added comfort, consider setting up pictures and mementos around the new space (even if it means they sit atop unpacked boxes), stocking the fridge with favorites, arranging fresh flowers or taking your loved one out for a nice meal at the end of move-in day.
For the Caregiver
Don’t forget to treat yourself to some downtime at the first opportunity. Moving a loved one will take its toll on you. Be sure to listen to your body and know when it’s had enough. Take breaks often, build in alone time and remember to stay on top of your life. During the chaos of the move it’s easy to forget your own priorities. Remember to pay bills on time, lean on friends and other family members for support and ask for help when it’s needed.