When it comes to transitioning to a retirement community, the "laundry list" might be longer than you think.
1. Are you going to stay in the Hilton Head-Bluffton area or move near your children? There are good reasons to choose either.
2. What type of community are you interested in? What amenities and activities are important? What does it cost, and is it affordable? Do you think you'd enjoy yourself living in this environment?
3. What size residence is needed? Is there availability or can you put your name on the waiting list?
4. When should you put your house on the market?
5. Next, it's de-cluttering and making minor improvements to prepare your house for sale.
6. Once your home is under contract, determine what "stuff" you want to sell or give away - and do it!
7. Schedule movers at least 30 days in advance of moving into the retirement community.
8. Pack up the boxes with all the "small stuff" that has accumulated but do your best to downsize as much as your emotions will allow.
9. On move-in, it's important to already know where your furniture and accessories will be placed and to have a back-up plan for boxes that have nowhere to go (extra storage onsite or public storage facility).
10. Change of mailing address, telephone and internet hookup, homeowners insurance, checking accounts, etc. will need to be addressed.
Seniors who have children in the local area, assuming they have a healthy relationship with their kids, have a tremendous advantage. Most children want to be a part of the process and oversee some, if not all, components to the move.
This is most helpful to the parent for a number of reasons, but most importantly it demonstrates a sincere sense of caring and ultimately approving of their parents' new home and community.
The more involvement children have in this transition process, the more confidence they will have in their parents' decision, which in turn gives their parents a feeling of validation and comfort, knowing they have 100 percent support from their kids.
Of course, every situation is different. Some seniors are extremely diligent in preparing for this phase of their life, while others tend to let fate control their destiny.
There are many factors that must be addressed before one makes a commitment to a senior retirement community. If your children are involved in all facets of the process, there will be less stress for all involved and most likely a decision that will prove to have been the right one.
If you don't have children or they live so far away that they can't offer any assistance, it's important to have someone to help in this major event. Ask a close friend if he or she can provide some guidance and feedback to help ease the burden of such a stressful event. Don't go it alone!
Joe Agee is the marketing and sales director for The Seabrook of Hilton Head. www.TheSeabrook.org