Moving into retirement apartments can be a huge step for people, especially if they're moving on their own following the death of a spouse or other family member. They may ask for some help from their friends and family, particularly if it's been a long time since they last had a space of their own to decorate anew. So what can you do to help them settle in to their new home with ease?
Help them to downsize efficiently
Chances are that they've been living in the same place for many years -- and for most people that means accumulating a large quantity of stuff. Retirement apartments are generally smaller than family homes, and they're going to need to downsize significantly. That doesn't mean giving up precious memories, though; help them go through everything bit by bit, perhaps using The 15 Minute Method. If they have family heirlooms and other items that they're not too bothered about keeping personally but feel need to go to the right home, take this opportunity to help them decide who these things should be passed on to. You can also use this time to identify which objects are particularly meaningful to them or to the family, knowledge you will appreciate in years to come.
Include reminders of friends, family and good times
Once everything they are keeping is in the new apartment, help them unpack and make themselves at home. Some things can be set up pretty much exactly as they have always been; a display of a particular collection will help a space feel similar once it's been re-established in the new home. Other things, like favourite chairs and lamps, can be re-contextualised in their new environment. Make sure there are plenty of places for photographs and portraits of friends, family, loved ones and memories, and if there are any glaring omissions (say, there's no photograph of a recent grandchild or child-in-law) encourage your relative to fill the gap and offer to help them do it.
Help them learn to live alone
If they're going to be living alone, it's important that they feel empowered to look after themselves -- even if their age means that isn't as easy as once it was or if they haven't lived alone for many years. Look into simple personal aids for tasks like opening jars or closing windows. Remember also that the internet is a lifeline for many elderly people living alone: Anyone can learn how to use a tablet computer with a little assistance, and it's a great way to help someone feel less isolated.
Smart technology and the Internet of Things can be of huge benefit to someone in their later years, too. Smart lightbulbs, for example, will allow them to turn their lights on and off without having to stand up or move to every room in the house. Smart heating systems let you adjust the room temperature from your phone and set schedules easily without having to squint at a dial or press a lot of small buttons. Consider talking through some of these options with them, and seeing how they feel about upgrading some of the aspects of their new home in line with modern technology.