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Checklist for Moving Parents Into Senior Living

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An older adult mother and her young daughter unpacking a cardboard box.

Different parents have different lifestyles, but no matter what your parents need or want, helping them move into a new living space often requires a lot of planning and organization. Breaking the process down into actionable steps can help you and your parents feel less overwhelmed and be better equipped for a smooth transition.

Here’s a checklist with some essential tips and details to keep in mind:

  • uncheckedStart early
  • uncheckedComplete all necessary paperwork, such as address changes, residency agreements, and other legal documents. 
  • uncheckedCreate a plan for shutting off utilities and services at your parents’ previous residence
  • uncheckedCreate a downsizing plan with items to keep and items to donate or get rid of
  • uncheckedCreate a plan for the day of the move
  • uncheckedHelp your parents unpack and set up their new space

This comprehensive checklist is designed to help guide you and your parents as you discover the joys of living in a new community. Learning more about each of these key steps can help you fully prepare for the transition and everything involved, from downsizing to the day of the move. 

Starting Early

Moving can be physically and emotionally exhausting, and getting a head start on organizing can help reduce stress and prevent last-minute chaos.

Before the move, check to make sure all paperwork is complete. This may include residency agreements for your new community, finance and insurance documents, medical documents, and legal documentation.

Compile and organize all the requisite legal and financial paperwork. This includes wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advanced directives. Be sure these documents are in a safe but accessible place and that your parents are comfortable with their location and content.

Organizing a Change of Address

At least a month before the move, make sure your parents’ new address is shared with the proper contacts and organizations. This not only ensures a seamless transition but also avoids any lapses in critical services.

Consider the following groups and services for your parents’ change of address:

  • USPS
  • Banks and credit card companies
  • Insurance companies and Medicare 
  • Social Security
  • Federal and state tax bureaus
  • Vehicle and driver’s license registrations 
  • Voter registrations  

Disconnecting Utilities

You may also want to create a schedule to have utilities and bill services disconnected at your parents’ old residence, but keep in mind that if you will be taking time to move other items out or do anything else after the day of the move, you may want to keep utilities connected until you’re sure they will no longer be needed.

The key services and utilities to think about include: 

  • Gas 
  • Electric 
  • Water 
  • Phone/internet/cable
  • Additional bills for other services, such as home services or memberships

If your parents are moving to a community space that will require them to find a new doctor, you or your parents may need to contact their doctor to receive a referral for a new physician. 


A big bulk of the moving process includes taking the time to go through all of your parents’ belongings and help them downsize their lifestyle.

To make downsizing less overwhelming, tackle it room by room. Begin by sorting through one area of the house at a time. Encourage family and friends to help with the sorting. Not only can working together make the organizing more fun, but the extra set of hands can also make the work easier! 

Sort all possessions into 3 categories:

  • Keep 
  • Toss 
  • Donate 

Avoid any “maybes” and duplicates. If your parents are unsure about a certain item, it may be an indication that they’re ready to part ways.

Instead of sorting belongings into cardboard boxes for the move, consider using clear plastic storage containers. The containers can help you to see what’s inside the boxes for easier unpacking. You should also label the storage containers based on what’s placed inside. 

Try making weekly visits to your local thrift store with your donations. This can help to create more space, remove clutter, and reduce stress and anxiety that may appear when the home is going through a serious shift. 

Encourage your parents to keep some of their physical photos and albums and digitize the rest—you can digitize documentation, too. You may also want to consider keeping pictures of your parents for yourself.

Consider the Floor Plan of the New Living Space

Before moving in, you will often know what the floor plan of your parents’ new living space will look like. This can be used to help with the move-in process in 2 ways: 

  • It can help you and your parents determine which items to bring into the living space during downsizing.
  • It can help make unpacking easier by making it possible to plan where everything can be placed ahead of time. 

On the Day of the Move

Create a plan for the day of the move ahead of time. Who will be helping? You may want to hire professional movers. The extra set of hands can help save time—and save you from sore muscles.

Consider looking for moving companies experienced in working with older adults, as they tend to have knowledge and a level of understanding that can help make the move smoother.

With the right preparations and good coordination with your chosen community, move-in day can be a fun experience with minimal stress for everyone involved. 

After Move-in Day 

The transition doesn’t end on move day—there are additional steps to take to help your parents feel at ease.

Unpacking can be challenging, so prioritize the essentials. Start with items that provide comfort, essential health and wellness items, like bedding, toiletries, and a few cherished possessions. This is where using plastic storage containers and labeling the storage units can come in handy. 

It may take some time, but gradually begin to set up the new space after your parents have their key essentials. Modeling the new living environment ahead of time with the floor plan can provide a headstart for unpacking and decorating your parents’ new living space. 

Arrange the new living space to be as familiar and functional as possible. If there are items from the old home that can be used, do so.

Connect with Our Team! 

At Parsons House Austin, we want to help you and your parents celebrate life—and that includes helping make the move to our community a positive experience. We know daily life should be full of opportunities to make lasting connections and cherished memories! 

Contact our team to schedule a tour and learn more about what to expect when you move to a community like ours. We are here to help make a difference in your life! 

Written by Parsons House Austin

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