There comes a time in all our lives when getting up from the sofa isn’t as easy as it once was. Or perhaps hanging the clothes out is enough to make us want to take a nap. Or maybe we just want someone else to cook for us for a change (who doesn’t?).
If moving into residential aged care would make life a little easier for you or someone you love, a bit of preparation can make a big difference to encourage a smooth transition.
Whatever your reasons for moving into a retirement village, be prepared with these tips.
Be sure to register with My Aged Care as soon as possible, as it can take up to 2 years to get funding for services.
Making A List Of Must-Haves
Before you even think about comparing retirement villages, determine what you want and need in your new home, and the features you’re not really fussed about.
For example, bringing your furry family member with you might be on your list of non-negotiables, while water aerobics might be a take-it-or-leave-it feature in your eyes.
Freedom to come and go as you please without strict curfews might be a must-have, while a community library may not be a selling factor for you.
A few other key things to consider when finding the right retirement village might include your budget, the location, its amenities, and the support provided.
Questions to Consider
- What is my budget? Do I want to rent or buy?
- Where would I like to live? Do I need to consider distance from friends and family, clubs, or other conveniences?
- Do the village amenities support my lifestyle? (E.g. if you love gardening, does it have a garden?)
- What level of support do I require? Do I need help with daily activities like taking medicine, getting dressed, or cleaning?
- Do I need a carpark or garage for my vehicle?
Having a clear idea of the things you need and the things you don’t can make your research phase a lot less overwhelming.
If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, brainstorming with a loved one might help you determine the things most important for your comfort and happiness.
Moving is a big deal for your pet, too. If you’re taking your fur baby with you, make the move less stressful on them with these tips.
Researching Your Options
Moving into a retirement village is a big change, so you’ll want to take your time to find one that ticks all your boxes.
Check Out Their Websites
In this day and age, most of the information you need will be online – generally on the website of the village you’re researching.
Here you should find relevant information around things such as the amenities, fees and payments, and available care packages. The site may also have an FAQs page with more handy information.
Read Reviews and Testimonials
There’s a lot to be said about word of mouth from other residents.
If the village’s own website doesn’t feature reviews and ratings, you might be able to find these on their Facebook page, Google My Business reviews, or dedicated review sites like this one.
If a retirement village has a great rating and positive reviews from other residents and/or their loved ones, this is a good sign.
Ask Questions Online or Over the Phone
Can’t find answers online? Retirement village websites will likely have online enquiry forms or an email address you can use to submit questions.
If you’d prefer to speak to someone in person, don’t hesitate to give the village a call. Be prepared with a list of questions to ask staff to ensure you don’t forget anything while you’re chatting.
Visit Facilities in Person
Most retirement villages will allow – and even encourage – you to visit in person for a tour.
Here you can see the facilities for yourself (just in case photos online are misleading) and speak to staff face to face about any questions and concerns you have.
This is the best way to get a feel for the place and see how other residents are enjoying themselves. You might even be allowed to attend a social event or meal to talk to residents and learn more about their experience.
Securing Your Retirement Village
Now you’ve determined which provider best suits you, it’s time to secure your new home.
Enquire About Service Options
Some retirement villages allow you to pick and choose which services you’d like to take advantage of – and which ones you’d rather not pay for.
It never hurts to ask if your package can be customised to suit you so you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
Take Your Time Deciding
It’s OK to mull over all the information before making a decision. Take your time considering all factors, picturing yourself living there, and discussing it with loved ones. The retirement village shouldn’t hassle or hurry you to make a decision.
Seek Expert Advice
It’s important to understand all the financial and legal implications of moving into a retirement village. It can help to get expert advice from a lawyer to make sure you know what’s involved before signing anything.
For example, some appealing verbal assurances by staff may be moot if they’re not stated in the contract. An expert can help you fully understand your rights before making a commitment.
Consumer Affairs Victoria provides a thorough insight into what’s involved in their article Before Signing a Retirement Village Contract.
Moving Out of Your Old Home
The next chapter in your life begins with saying goodbye to your current house.
Selling or Renting Your Home
Many people choose to sell their current home before making the move into their new one. On the other hand, you may like to rent out your home to help fund your aged care instead.
It’s worth discussing with loved ones and experts to determine what the best decision is for your individual situation.
If you choose to sell with a real estate agent, these tips can help you find a good one.
Deciding What to Take
How much space is in your new home? This is key to knowing what you can and can’t bring.
If you’ve accumulated a life’s worth of treasures, it might be difficult to decide what to take with you. Get help from a trusted friend or family member to sort through your things and determine what you’ll need.
Unneeded items might be sold, donated or thrown out. As for the sentimental items you don’t want to dispose of but don’t have space for in your new home, you might like to give them to your loved ones or keep them safe in a storage unit for now.
Planning Your Move
Prepping for your move well in advance can help remove some of the stress.
- Get quotes from removalists and book them as soon as possible.
- Ask friends and family for help packing your items.
- Start packing items you don’t use every day a week or two before the move – don’t leave it all to the last minute!
- Organise to have your phone, electricity, and gas disconnected.
- Update your address with the necessary services, e.g. the post office, doctors, and magazine subscription providers.
- Pack a bag of necessities so they don’t get lost in moving boxes. This might contain your toothbrush and toiletries, medications, pyjamas, and the kettle and a mug (of course).
You won’t forget a thing with our handy moving checklist.
Settling Into Your New Home
Once you’ve moved into your retirement village, you’ll want to make yourself comfortable for an easier transition.
Make your new house feel like home by unpacking your boxes and bags as soon as possible. Having all your favourite things around you will help make your new place truly feel like yours.
Invite Friends and Family Over
Warm your new home with the presence of your favourite people. Invite loved ones over to see your new place and give them a tour of the facilities.
Get Involved in the Community
Get to know your new neighbours and waste no time involving yourself in social activities. Introduce yourself to the staff and maybe slip them some Tim Tams to make a good impression.
Maintain Your Routine
Easing into your new life will be that much smoother if you maintain your daily routine as much as possible. If you start the day with a cup of tea and a morning stroll, continue doing this. If you end the day with a good book and a quick phone call to your daughter, keep it up.
Enjoying your daily routine will help make things feel as normal as possible.
Moving from the big family home into a smaller space in a retirement village doesn’t have to mean compromising your quality of life. Learn how to downsize your home without downsizing your life in this article.