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Supporting Your Aging Parents’ Move to Independent Living

Jul 13, 2021

Home. It’s a word that carries so much meaning, emotion and comfort to all of us. Home is where you grew up and where you lived with your family. As we get older, have families of our own and make our own homes, there’s still a part of us that fondly think of our parents’ home as “home,” especially if Mom and Dad have remained in the same house for a long time. So, if and when your aging parents announce that they’re moving to independent living, it can sometimes be discombobulating for you as well as them.

“There’s an emotional weight that comes with your parent’s decision to move out of their home and into a senior living community,” says Judy Given, Senior Director of Campus Development at Abe’s Garden Community. “Most articles and information out there focus on aging parents and how to support and make the move as easy as possible for them. However, adult children need support, too, especially if he or she is playing a role in helping the parents transition to their new home.”

While transitions should focus on the success of moving the parents, Judy suggests that adult children take some time to support themselves as well.

“Moving into a senior living community can really bring home the reality that your parents are getting older,” she explains. “While we all know that this is something that will happen eventually, the reality of it can be rather sobering.”

Change can be hard for everyone involved, but Judy says that focusing on the positives of the move will help both you and your parents get ready and excited for this new chapter of life. “Independent living is a wonderful option for older adults because it allows them to say goodbye to home maintenance and chores and instead live in a place where they’ll be able to age well, living a life filled with social opportunities, activities and everything else they need to enjoy life now and in the future.”

If your parents have decided to move to independent living, here are some tips for adult children to help navigate these changes and set their parents up for success in their new home.

Acknowledge the loss.

Realize that both you and possibly your parents will have mixed emotions about moving out of the home they’ve lived in for years. You (and they) may end up grieving the loss of what once was and feel sad about growing older (even if they are still healthy and independent). Even when change is good, it also means that there are things you have to say goodbye to, and that may be hard. Allow yourself to remember the good times, the memories and the things you loved about “home.” And help your parents do the same, too. Take pictures throughout the home, just to have so that you can look through them later and relive those memories again. Acknowledge the loss, but then realize what the new move will mean and how it will help improve your parents’ lives in truly significant ways.

Downsize and declutter together.

If you’ve moved before (and most, if not all, of us, have), you know that it is a process that requires a lot of pre-planning and work. Let your parents know that you’re willing and able to help – and they may need it, especially if they haven’t done any sort of downsizing or decluttering for a long time. When moving to independent living, most seniors will have to get rid of a significant number of personal items. This can be a tough process, and having another trusted person can help make the situation easier and more enjoyable.

Get the house in order.

Unless your parents have been renting, they will need to sell their home once they’ve moved to independent living. This can be a lot of work, and something that adult children can definitely help support. You can help your parents find a REALTOR® who’s experienced with helping older adults downsize and move to senior living communities. You can also do research on moving companies and start getting quotes. Finally, you can help with getting rid of the stuff that isn’t being given away or taken to the new community. Whether that’s an estate sale, a donation dump or a combo of the two, that’s definitely something Mom and Dad may need help with.

Plan your moving day.

Moving is stressful enough, so there’s no need to add unnecessary anxiety on top of it. Some experts suggest moving a parent to independent living before closing on their house since that helps avoid rushing at the last minute. You’ll also want to work with the independent living community to understand the move-in process at the new community. Is it possible to have access to the home prior to move-in so that you and your parents can set up the space in a way that makes it feel homier?

Help get the new home ready.

When it’s time to actually move, adult children can be a big help – physically, mentally and emotionally. There’s a certain level of excitement that occurs when you’re setting up a new space, and having people around to help can make the process a lot more energetic and fun. It’s a good idea to talk with Mom and Dad about how and where they want their furniture and belongings prior to the actual move day – that way, you can create a floor plan that allows for easy setup once you’re physically in the space. On moving day, stay for unpacking so you can help clear away boxes and trash, and be sure to have dinner in the dining room with your parents so they can kick off their life in a new community with a familiar face nearby.

Let them go.

In a way, you may feel very similar to how it felt to your parents when you left home – a little sad, a little anxious and a little worried. The last thing you, as an adult child, want to do is hover over your parents, especially as they’re settling into life in their new community. It’s hard, but you will have to give them the opportunity to adjust and spread their wings to make new friends, set up a new routine and start this new chapter of life. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t check in on them regularly. It just means that they, and perhaps even you, will have to take the time to get comfortable in their new place.

“When your parents move to independent living, you may feel like you aren’t sure what your role is anymore, especially if you’ve played a big part in helping your parents live independently,” says Judy. “Remember that this is a process, and it’s okay to not know exactly what’s in store for you. Nonetheless, independent living can allow adult children and their parents to rekindle their relationship in a new and exciting way. Eventually, you may find yourself looking forward to the day when you, too, can move into independent living and start experiencing all the benefits that your parents enjoy now!”

Love Where You Live!

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Do I love where I live?” If you ask that question of the residents of Abe’s Garden Independent Living, Nashville’s premier retirement community, the answer would be a resounding, “Yes!” For 60 years, Abe’s Garden Independent Living (formerly Park Manor) has served Nashville’s seniors by providing a community designed to support an active, independent, secure, and hassle-free lifestyle. Located on seven spacious acres in the desirable Nashville neighborhood of Belle Meade, we’re proud to provide a lifestyle our residents love each and every day.

Our apartments and dining room have been renovated, and our programs, events and activities have been reimagined and refocused on enhancing the total well-being of mind, body and spirit. In fact, Abe’s Garden Community is establishing a replicable model for senior life that is focused on brain health, wellness and purposeful living.

This commitment to enhancing the lives of seniors is why we are held in such high regard by our surrounding community and are known as the premier retirement community offering independent living and assisted living lifestyles.

Abe’s Garden Assisted Living provides peace of mind that simply can’t be matched with living alone at home, with support and individualized care when needed. Residents have access to a vibrant, wellness-focused lifestyle rich with opportunities to nurture friendships and enjoy all the possibilities Abe’s Garden Community offers. Our assisted-living lifestyle promotes independence, dignity, well-being and fulfillment.

For seniors requiring memory support, Abe’s Garden Community’s campus is home to the prestigious Abe’s Garden  Memory Support Center of Excellence, which is committed to elevating the standard of care for those with dementia by studying, implementing and sharing best practices in care, design and engagement. Abe’s Garden Memory Support Center of Excellence has been internationally recognized as a groundbreaker in design for individuals living with dementia.

At Abe’s Garden Community, your continued independence is our top priority. Enjoy living life as you choose … in the comfort and privacy of your own apartment while having the peace of mind of knowing help is available if and when you need it.

For more information, please call 615.277.1107.