Transitioning a Loved One into a Nursing Home: Before, During, and After

The life changing process of moving into a new home can be difficult for anyone at any age, especially for someone 50 years set in their ways and even more so if that person has been living in the same home for decades. Many of us get attached to our belongings after a few years, months, or even weeks. Could you imagine taking away a child’s favorite toy that they just received for their birthday? Now take that same loving attachment but turn it into sentimental belongings built up over many decades. Seniors need friends and family most when uncertainty looms. Here are some helpful steps and things to keep in mind when it’s time for your loved one to embark on this journey.

Preparing for the Move: the Longing for Belongings

  • Start early to minimize stress. Give them more time to evaluate and go through all the things they’ve held onto over the years. Allow them to go through all of the possible emotions: reluctance, anger, sadness, fear, and hopefully acceptance.

  • As you go through possessions, establish guidelines and time limits to turn decision-making into a self-fulfilling process. It can be very easy to get off topic, try your best to avoid it.

  • The above notwithstanding, leave time to reminisce about the house and all its special memories. Setting aside some dedicated time to discuss memories and precious moments could turn out to be very valuable family time in the end.

  • Make a list of things family members would like to keep. Done in a loving fashion, this can help make the senior feel both special (to be able to give) and needed as well.

  • It may be a stressful time, but try your hardest not to show it. Remain strong, kind and hold your patience throughout.


  • Selling unneeded items on Ebay, Craigslist or through a local consignment shop is a great way to make some pin money, as the older generations would say. Be careful of yard sales watching strangers pick through familiar belongings can be tough on a nostalgic person.

  • Consider hiring a Senior Move Manager. They specialize in helping seniors who are downsizing and/or moving to nursing homes and their special skills can help tremendously.

  • Seniors often want to ship a dining room set, grandfather clock or similar family treasure to children or grandchildren out of state. Hire a dedicated small move specialist rather than engaging a full-load mover who will charge more.

Life After Moving

  • Visit frequently. Don’t just drop off and say goodbye until next time. Put it on your calendar. More often than not, both parties will find tremendous fulfillment.

  • Nursing home residents don’t revert to childhood per se, but they often rediscover the joys of simple pleasures. So bring things when you visit. Here are a few suggestions:

    • A stuffed animal can be a delight and even a comforting companion.

    • Bring pictures and videos of family events. Watch the video together, and create a small photo album to leave behind.

    • Large-print books and magazines are usually welcome. Large-print crossword puzzle magazines, too. Exercise the mind and have fun at the same time.

    • Bring some favorite foods. Remember seasonal treats. Depending on the time of year that could include Halloween candy, pumpkin pie, holiday ham, chocolates (always a fan favorite) or corned beef and cabbage.


Keep them active by taking them places. Declining health can make outings difficult, but on the other hand, healthy activity can stave off decline. Here are a few ideas:

  • Enjoy a meal at a favorite restaurant. And since nursing home meal plans don’t usually vary much from week to week, this could be a special treat.

  • Go shopping. A mall is good, many malls offer early hours to allow seniors time to walk around the empty floors. Even a trip to a Walmart or a Target will break the routine.

  • Visit the past. If it won’t be an emotional drain, take a drive past the old house, a church or school they once attended, or the cemetery for a visit with a deceased family member.

  • Visit the present. If health permits, take them to those family events, recitals and graduations.

  • Just go. In this age of expensive gasoline, people don’t much seem to drive for pleasure anymore. Why not buck the trend?

This is a sponsored post by Transit Systems, a fully licensed leader in the shipping and moving services industry for over 20 years. With many specialties under their belt including senior move manager, Transit Systems is the best choice for moves big or small.

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