Next Stop: Senior Living

Now that you know senior living is your best next choice, it’s time to get started on finding a community, preparing for the transition, and scheduling the move. No matter if you have plenty of time to plan or if you are making a move under more urgent circumstances, we are here to help guide you through your next steps.

Here, you’ll find out how to make the most of your senior living search, prepare for a smooth transition, and manage the business of moving day. Our goal is to make you feel empowered and in control of these next steps.

Moving to senior living means you will have access to amenities and services designed to enhance your current lifestyle, health, and overall well-being. You’ve already determined senior living is what you need to live your best life; now let’s work on getting you there step by step.

Download a PDF version of this guide by filling out the form below.

Ready for Senior Living What’s Next? eBook



Benefits of Senior Living

Senior living communities can offer an overwhelming variety of amenities and services. We lay out some of the top amenities Arbor communities have to offer to give you an idea of what to look for in a top-notch senior living community.


Let’s Talk About Emotions

Making the move to senior living is bound to be emotional. We will guide you through how to best address these common emotions.


Making the Decision

We offer different senior living options that adapt to your specific needs, along with resources to help you make the best decision.


Before You Make a Final Decision

Important things to consider when you are ready to take the final step into the next chapter of your life.


After You Sign the Contract

Congrats - you've signed the contract! Now you can look forward to preparing for the next phase of the process: the transition.


Rightsizing and Packing

A successful move starts with taking the time to rightsize your possessions and determine what you should bring with you. Our tips will help you organize what to bring!


Preparing for the Move & Move-in Day

We will guide you in making sure your move-in day goes smoothly!


Finding Senior Living in an Urgent Situation

Not everyone has the opportunity to spend months touring senior living communities and thoughtfully preparing for a move. If you have a condensed timeline, we are here to help guide you.

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Chapter 1

Benefits of Senior Living

If you have been considering senior living as an option for your future for a while now, you are already well aware of the benefits community living can offer. However, if you are finding yourself searching for senior living because of a physician recommendation or sudden medical event, you might not yet realize the perks that come with community life.

Today’s senior living communities are busy places full of diverse residents, caring team members who pay attention to every detail, and amenities created to anticipate the needs of the residents who live there.

At Arbor communities, residents enjoy amenities and services that enhance the Arbor lifestyle and ensure every resident has the choice to decide what comes next. Every Arbor community is different, but all of our communities feature staples that include:

On-site Fitness Centers, Group Fitness Programs, and Swimming Pools

Getting moving has never been more convenient than it is in an Arbor community. Residents can take a yoga class with friends, talk with a trainer about how to start a new fitness program, or take a dip in the pool to end the day.

Award-winning Dining Experiences With Plenty of Choices

Exquisite dining experiences daily with an assortment of chef-prepared meals. Arbor’s Dining with Dignity® program is nationally recognized and ensures everyone has a dining experience that suits their needs and preferences.

Life-enriching Programs, Events, and Trips

Every day is full of new opportunities and possibilities thanks to a carefully curated life enrichment calendar. Residents find events ranging from live outdoor concerts to trips to local favorite spots and everything in between.

Concierge, Linen/Laundry, and Transportation Services

Maintenance-free living means residents have more time for pursuing what they love while our helpful team members take care of the rest.

On-site Conveniences Such as Banking and Salon Visits

Arbor communities are packed with on-site conveniences to make running many small errands easy. Imagine grabbing stamps, doing your banking, and going to the salon without having to get in a car or leaving campus!

Pet-friendly Accommodations

We know a house isn’t a home without a beloved pet. Communities offer pet-friendly accommodations so residents are never far from their companions.

Chapter 2

Let’s Talk About Emotions

Whether you are exploring senior living after thinking about it for a few years or are suddenly faced with the option, you are bound to be emotional. This is completely normal and valid. After all, any move is a big transition, and moving to senior living can bring up feelings ranging from excitement to anxiety for both the older adult and their family members.

You can address your emotions about your senior living decision-making process and the transition by:

  • Talking about it with your physician.
  • Making an appointment with a counselor who has experience with your situation.
  • Starting daily gratitude journaling.
  • Using a journal to record your thoughts and feelings as well as to “brain dump” about your growing task list.
  • Making exercise a priority.
  • Recognizing strong feelings and naming them as they come.
  • Eating well and staying hydrated.
  • Staying on a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Taking any prescribed medications.

Remember, the more you talk with your loved ones and physician about how you are feeling, the better you can receive the support you need to make this a healthy and smooth transition.

Chapter 3

Making the Decision

You already know that senior living is on the horizon, which means now it is time to choose which senior living community is right for you. There are many senior living communities around the country, and your desired location most likely has at least a few communities for you to research and tour.

You can begin your decision-making process by first determining which option is best for your needs and preferences. There are four main types of senior living options:

  • Independent living, where a luxury retirement lifestyle comes to life in an apartment or cottage home, complete with wellness-focused opportunities and a vibrant social calendar.
  • Assisted living, where extra peace of mind and assistance offer residents the confidence they need to stay active and healthy while living life to the fullest.
  • Memory care, which is specially designed for seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.
  • Skilled nursing, which offers skilled nursing support in a clinical environment for those living with complex pain or chronic conditions.

If you aren’t sure what type of senior living option would support you best, speak with your physician to get guidance, and take our Senior Living Options Quiz.

Figure out your current budget and create an approximate budget for senior living. Remember, a lot of things you are used to paying for separately are included in your total cost at a senior living community! With a simple monthly fee that covers nearly everything, from meals to rent to services, you’ll be able to predict your monthly expenses more easily and enjoy a simplified budget.

Determine your true senior living budget by using our free Senior Living Cost Calculator.

Next, it is time to decide which community fits your budget. You can get a better understanding of the costs associated with each senior living community on your list by asking them for their fees, including the monthly fee as well as any additional costs that might arise during the month.

Once you have narrowed down your search, you can begin touring communities that offer your preferred living option, are in your desired location, and fit within your budget. During your in-person or virtual tours, look at more than just the apartments available. Observe:

  • The cleanliness of the community.
  • The dining options on campus, including menus.
  • The types of events offered daily.
  • The amenities and services available.
  • How residents interact with one another.
  • How team members interact with residents.

You’ll be able to significantly narrow down your choices based on a review of your budget, senior living options, and tour observations.

Chapter 4

Before You Make a Final Decision

You will likely narrow down your list after your initial research into and tours of potential senior living communities. However, before you make a final decision, ensure you have:

  • Taken a second tour, perhaps inviting along a trusted friend or family member to go with you.
  • Spoken with your financial advisor to ensure you know how this decision will impact your budget.
  • Attended a meal or event at the community to engage with the life and residents there.
  • Determined if you can offset the costs of senior living with any insurance, Medicaid, or VA benefits.
  • Spoken with your physician about your decision.

Chapter 5

After You Sign the Contract

Now that you have made your senior living decision, let us be the first to congratulate you! It’s a big choice, and getting it out of the way means you can begin to look forward to living there and prepare for the next phase of the process: the transition.

After you have chosen your new home’s floor plan and signed the contract with your senior living community, you can begin to focus on preparing for the move.

Celebrate Your Current Home

If possible, take time during this transition to celebrate your current home, neighborhood, and friends. Invite people to join you for dinner or lunch at favorite local spots, host coffee dates in your home among the moving boxes, and take walks around your neighborhood. You can even take pictures of your favorite spots to compile in a coffee table book or to hang on the walls of your new home.

Daydream About Your New Home

Remember all the good things yet to come by allowing yourself to begin to daydream about life in senior living. Write down all the reasons you are excited to move to your new senior living home. Attend programs, events, or meals before you move in so you can get to know the community and residents. Be sure to ask the community to mail you copies of the menu and programming calendar so you can catch a glimpse of what life will be like for you soon. Finally, take time to explore the new neighborhood with friends or family members.

Chapter 6

Rightsizing and Packing

A successful move starts with taking the time to rightsize your possessions and determine what you should bring with you to your new home. You can make organizing and rightsizing a bit easier — and a lot less overwhelming — if you use some of these tips:

  • Work with a professional organizer who has experience in senior moves. Your new senior living community may have a list of vetted referrals to offer if you need it.
  • Invite a family member or a trusted friend to help you with the process.
  • Work through one room at a time, stopping when you feel overwhelmed or anxious.
  • Separate items into categories to donate, sell, give to family, throw out, or bring.
  • Keep your new floor plan handy so you can determine which pieces of furniture to keep.
  • If you want to remember a large item that cannot come with you, consider taking a photo of it or asking a local artist to draw it for you. A custom photo or piece of art will look great on the wall of your new home.

Communicate with the move-in coordinator at your new senior living community so you understand what to bring with you and what you don’t need. For example, you might not want to pack your fine dinnerware set if you are going to host family gatherings in the private dining room of the community instead of your apartment. Or, instead of bringing along your 8-foot artificial Christmas tree, you might choose to bring a smaller one because you’ll be able to enjoy holiday decorations throughout the community.

What To Bring

As you pack up, be sure you bring along:

  • Your smartphone, tablet, and computer to keep you connected to your loved ones and your favorite sites. Remember, Wi-Fi is included at your community!
  • Medical necessities such as medical information, prescriptions, emergency contact information, and information for your physicians.
  • Your must-have appliances — but keep in mind that you’ll have easy access to certain amenities in the dining room, so you might be able to leave your toaster or coffee maker behind.
  • Select photos and art to hang on the walls of your new home.
  • Shelving or drawer units to increase the storage capacity in the kitchen, bathroom, or living room.

What Not To Bring

Because of your new lifestyle, you can skip packing certain items. Consider leaving behind things such as:

  • Deep-cleaning supplies. Instead, pack light supplies (e.g., a dust cloth or bleach wipes).
  • Oversized furniture that can clutter your new home quickly. Choose furniture that fits the room instead.
  • Large collections that can take up valuable storage space. Bring along a few of your favorites to express your style.
  • Extravagant jewelry that might make you more nervous than comfortable because it is relatively unsecured. Consider putting the majority of your collection in a safety deposit box or other location outside of your new home.

Chapter 7

Preparing for the Move & Move-in Day

As move-in day approaches, you can make sure the day goes as smoothly as possible by completing a few tasks ahead of time. If you have the capacity to do so before move-in, try to space out key tasks over weeks or months so you aren’t overwhelmed.

Add these items to your moving day to-do list:

  • Notify family members, friends, subscriptions, and any other senders of your new address.
  • Forward your mail through your post office to your new address.
  • Choose a moving company with experience working with seniors. Ask your new senior living home for vetted referrals if you don’t have a preferred mover.
  • Ask a few family members to spend the day with you to help you settle in and unpack.
  • Get any last-minute tips or instructions from the senior living community.

It’s finally here: move-in day! You’ll have the help you need from the community to make your move seamless, so be sure to take advantage of the extra assistance. Don’t hesitate to ask a staff member to hang art on your walls or move a piece of furniture to a new position. You’ll also have plenty of visiting neighbors stopping by to say hello. Consider taking one of them up on their offer to give you a tour of the community or take you to lunch.

Moving day will be full of hustle and bustle, but you can start enjoying community life right away. You’ll find that the sooner you jump into events and a new routine, the quicker you will settle in. 

Try attending a meal with a loved one or a new neighbor. Check out the event calendar and make an effort to attend a program within the first two days of moving in. Finally, if you are comfortable, consider leaving your door open or hanging a sign that welcomes visitors so neighbors know they can stop by to say hello.

If you feel shy or nervous about getting into community life, consider asking a family member to join you at that first meal or event to make the transition a bit easier. Soon, though, you’ll find that your neighbors are quite welcoming and eager to help by answering questions, saving you a seat at the next happy hour, or inviting you to their apartment for a cup of coffee.

Chapter 8

Finding Senior Living in an Urgent Situation

Not everyone has the opportunity to spend months touring senior living communities and thoughtfully preparing for a move. If you are hurriedly looking into senior living in the midst of a hospital discharge or other urgent situation, there is less time to go through each of the steps outlined in this guide. However, you can still make the most of the transition process, even if you have to accelerate the timeline. Here are a few tips you can use to guide you through the process so you can still make a confident decision.

Make sure to ask your physician right away about the senior living option you need to look for. Ask for recommendations quickly so you can begin to narrow down your list.

Before scheduling tours, talk on the phone with each potential community to see if they have apartments available, offer the living option you need, and fit into your budget. Eliminate any community that doesn’t meet your needs before you get to the touring stage. This will save you precious time as you search for the right community.

Communities can schedule tours during the evenings and weekends, so be sure to take advantage of those opportunities to accommodate any scheduling complications. If you are in a hospital bed or otherwise unable to attend a physical tour, have a family member or loved one ask about ways to involve you virtually in the tour. 

If you don’t have a decision made by your anticipated discharge date, work with the hospital’s social worker to see if you can extend the discharge date a day or so. They cannot likely give you a week extension, but you can gain some time with a few extra days.

Once you choose a community, pack favorite essentials so you can feel comfortable and at home as soon as possible after the move. Then, go back and go through the rightsizing process after things have settled down.

You’re Ready To Start

Choosing a senior living community and preparing for the move doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Now you have the tools you need to work through the process step by step. You are so close to beginning something new and exciting — with new and exciting neighbors!

Don’t miss a step in the process. Download a PDF of this guide now to refer to at any time during your journey.

Download a PDF version of this guide

Download a PDF version of this guide by filling out the form below.

Ready for Senior Living What’s Next? eBook