Moving Elderly Parents: Senior Moving Assistance
A home is not just a roof over the head – it is a place that offers comfort and peace, a sanctuary where you can be yourself and find refuge from the hostile outside world, a safe haven that reflects your personality, stores your memories, and gives rise to your dreams. And the longer you live in the same house or apartment, the more emotionally vested in your “sweet home” you become.
It comes as no surprise then that the elderly, who have spared a lot of time, effort, and money to create their “dream home”, spent many years in it, experienced many life-defining moments among its walls, accumulated many treasured possessions, and achieved a sense of security, independence, and self-fulfillment in their current surroundings, will find it very difficult – both emotionally and physically – to leave their beloved homes and move someplace else.
Moving seniors is an enormous challenge that requires time, patience, and immaculate organization. To ensure a smooth transition, you need to be kind, compassionate, and very well prepared. Having professional senior moving assistance will also help a lot.
The comprehensive guide below will take you through all the stages of the arduous senior relocation process – from downsizing and packing to finding the best senior moving services and reducing the stress for your elderly parents. Make sure you give it a close look when planning the relocation of senior loved ones.
Stage 1: Communication And Choice
Moving house is always difficult and nerve-racking, even more so when one needs to leave a cozy and comfortable home that has been their personal haven for many years. It is, therefore, expected that there will be great sadness and apprehension when a senior cannot live in their large family home on their own anymore and needs to relocate – whether to a retirement community or to a smaller place closer to their children.
Convincing your own aging parents that it is in their best interest to downsize and move when they no longer have the strength and the energy to maintain the household (or when they require regular medical care), will be, without a doubt, a tough and heart-rending process. It is, however, the only reasonable solution, so you need to find a way to help them understand the situation and make the transition easier:
- Discuss the matter at length – talk with them about why they need to move and where they might relocate to;
- Give your elderly parents time to think it over, grieve their loss, and accept the change;
- Point out all the positive aspects of the move – less responsibilities, less work, greater safety, better healthcare, a chance to meet new people and make new friends, a chance to spend more time with you and their grandchildren (if they’ll be moving closer to you), etc.;
- Give them as much choice as possible – let them choose their new home (or the living community they’ll be moving to), get them involved in the moving preparations, let them pick what comes with them, take their wishes into account, etc.
Keep in mind that when seniors are asked to leave their beloved homes, the most frequent cause of distress is the perceived sense of loss – loss of comfort zone, loss of social circle, loss of control, loss of independence, loss of self. To ensure a smooth transition, you need to reduce this sense of loss and powerlessness – the only way to do so is to be patient and considerate, offer unconditional support, and assure your elderly parents how much you care about them.
Stage 2: Relocation Planning
Once the decision is made, there comes the great challenge of organizing the move. Everyone knows how much time and effort goes into making a relocation run smoothly. When it comes to moving the elderly from their home, however, the process requires even more careful consideration and planning because it means helping the seniors with major downsizing and laborious packing, as well as finding expert senior movers who will know how to handle the relocation in a safe, efficient, ethic, and compassionate manner.
To be sure that you’ll be able to take proper care of all the arduous moving tasks and won’t overlook any specific aspect of the senior relocation process, you’re going to need a specialized senior relocation checklist. The one below is certain to be of great help:
1) Start the moving preparations as early as possible – at least four months before the move (preferably six)
Your parents will need plenty of time to get used to the idea of an imminent change and say their goodbyes – revisit their favorite places in the area, spend some more time with their friendly neighbors, go through their possessions, remembering the stories behind them and reminiscing about the past, etc. Besides, they’ll be getting tired very quickly and will be doing everything at a much slower pace than you’re used to.
Also, don’t forget that the earlier you book the move the greater choice of reliable and experienced senior movers you’ll have.
2) Decide where your parents will be moving to
Research your options, discuss your parents’ needs and wishes with them, and decide if they will be moving to an assisted living community (or a retirement community) or to a smaller home, closer to you:
- Evaluate your parents’ health and need of specialized medical care;
- Consider whether your parents need constant supervision or assistance or if they can do most daily activities on their own;
- Evaluate your own ability to provide care for your aging parents;
- Decide on the most appropriate location of the new residence.
3) Find an appropriate new home for your elderly parents
# Research the conditions in different living communities and take your parents to the ones you think will be most appropriate for them, so that they can experience the atmosphere in person and choose the place they like the best.
# Research the available housing options in your chosen area and take your parents to see the houses (or apartments) you consider to best suit their needs, so that they can determine where they’ll feel most at home.
4) Find out what items your parents can bring along and what they need to leave behind
# If your parents will be moving to a retirement community, check the rules about what possessions residents can and cannot bring. The requirements can vary considerably from one community to the next. Besides, some furniture and other household items may be provided by the facility, so there will be no need to bring the same things.
# If your parents will be moving to a new smaller home, find out how much space the place has. Then, plot a floor plan of the new home on graph paper and cut out pieces of paper to represent furniture and other major household items. Sit down with your parents and sketch out what can go where – this will not only help them assess how much of their stuff will fit in and how to best arrange the new space, but will also eliminate some of the harder decisions about what to get rid of.
5) Help your parents sort and organize their belongings
Deciding the fate of their possessions is one of the toughest challenges seniors face when moving house. The decision whether to keep something or part with it is often emotional, not rational. This may easily result in a conflict, so you need to be very gentle when suggesting to get rid of an item. Honor your parents’ emotional attachment to their personal belongings and allow them to reminisce as you help sort out their possessions. Remember that you’re helping them part with material objects and not part with memories – listen to their stories, be kind and considerate, and let them keep items of extremely high sentimental value, no matter how worthless they may seem to you. Remind your parents, however, that discarding an item does not mean discarding the associated cherished memory or the feelings it evokes. Explain to them that every sold piece will add some money to their budget and every donated item will benefit another human being.
Go through the house item by item with your parents. Ask them if they use the object and if it has any special meaning to them. Suggest selling or giving away things that don’t have a high practical or sentimental value. Categorize each and every item: to be moved, to be left with family, to be sold, to be donated, or to be thrown out.
If your parents insist on keeping more stuff than their new place can accommodate, try to find alternative solutions – offer to store some of the items in your home, arrange for a relative or a close friend to take others, ask your mom and dad to keep only one “representative” of an entire group of sentimental items (one souvenir from their honeymoon, one of your grandmother’s hand-woven rugs, the most valuable piece of a large collection, etc.). This will help save space and will ease your parents’ anxiety.
SEE ALSO: What to know when downsizing home for retirement
6) Take care of all the required paperwork
Your aging parents will find it very difficult to deal with all the necessary paperwork, so you’re strongly advised to take it upon yourself to put the required documents in order – change of address, assisted living resident agreement (if applicable), transfer of utilities (if applicable), medical records, financial records, property-related documents, moving documents, etc.
7) Hire professional senior relocation services
Unless your parents will be taking only a few boxes of personal belongings to their new residence (and no furniture or other larger household items), you’re strongly recommended to hire professional movers to perform the actual relocation – you’ll have too much on your hands as it is without having to worry about transportation and other related issues.
Many reputable moving companies offer specialized moving services for seniors, so finding experienced and trustworthy movers for the elderly won’t be a problem. Just make sure you research all your options and find the best movers for your parents’ particular relocation needs:
- Read moving reviews to get reliable feedback from previous customers of the senior moving companies;
- Fill in a moving quote to get in touch with several reliable moving professionals in your area;
- Look for testimonials and recommendations – if possible, get in contact with seniors (and their families) who have recently moved and find out if they were happy with the moving services they used and what problems they had with the movers;
- Research the companies – visit their websites, check their USDOT numbers, find their ratings with the BBB, check their complaints’ histories, etc.;
- Ask for in-house estimates – compare the offers (not only the moving costs, but also the included services, special conditions, insurance policies, and any other important details) and choose the movers that offer the highest quality services at the most reasonable prices.
Sticking to the above checklist for moving elderly parents will ensure a trouble-free move and a smooth transition for your senior loved ones. If it seems too overwhelming, however, you can make things much easier by hiring a senior relocation specialist to help organize the move. Bringing in a third party who is trained to provide gentle, objective guidance eliminates much of the emotional strain and simplifies the process.
Alternative Option: Consider Hiring a Senior Move Manager
Senior move managers specialize in helping the elderly and their families deal with the painstaking process of downsizing and moving. They provide quality relocation services for senior and offer all kinds of expert moving assistance for elderly citizens:
- Sorting and organizing household items and personal possessions;
- Creating customized floor plans of the new residence so the seniors can visualize their new home;
- Arranging sales and donations to get rid of unwanted items before the move;
- Scheduling the move;
- Arranging shipment and storage (if necessary);
- Arranging and supervising professional packing;
- Unpacking and setting up the new home;
- Cleaning and preparing the old residence for sale or for rent.
You can choose and combine any of these services, as appropriate in your case.
Good to know: The National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) is the most esteemed organization for senior move managers and, as such, it guarantees the professionalism and expertise of its certified members. Working with NASMM experienced senior relocation specialists is your best bet when helping elderly parents move.
Using professional moving assistance for seniors will save you a lot of time, effort, and nerves, so that you’ll be able to provide greater emotional support to your parents and will have the energy to help them settle into their new home after the move.
For one reason or another, however, you may prefer to take care of certain moving tasks – especially ones that are so emotionally intense that any outside interference may be seen as hostile, or ones that will cost too much to be performed by professionals – yourself. If so, it will most probably be the packing of your parents’ belongings that you won’t entrust to strangers.
Stage 3: Packing For The Move
When packing for moving, the elderly are not packing mere items, but memories, keepsakes, comfort providers, and other essential elements of their cozy surroundings and nostalgic lifestyle. So, when helping seniors move, you need to allow for plenty of time and to be very patient and kind during the packing process. Remember – it’s not about getting stuff in the boxes as quickly as you can, it’s about reaffirming your parents’ sense of legacy and accomplishment. To make the process as efficient and stress-free as possible, you’re advised to:
- Be patient and considerate – ask your parents what they’d like to do themselves and what they’re going to need help with. Help them sort their belongings and try to make them understand why it’ll be better to get rid of certain items, but let them have the final say. Allow them as much time as they need to take their decisions and say their goodbyes;
- Start early – about three or four months before moving day;
- Start simple – have your parents pack the study or the guest room first (a place in the house that doesn’t hold too much emotional attachment);
- Focus on one area at a time – this makes the overwhelming packing process easier and more organized;
- Keep a slow but steady pace – ask your parents to spend at least an hour a day on the task;
- Pack a survival box – pack the most essential items your parents are going to need during the first couple of days in their new home in a separate box, so that they have easy access to their necessities – medicines, toiletries, change of clothes, basic kitchen utensils, etc.;
- Ensure the safety of your parents’ belongings – pack each and every object with utmost care and pay special attention to breakables and delicate items;
- Clearly label all boxes and household items – make sure all the furniture and other belongings that will go with to your parents’ new home are labeled with their specific new location (living room, bedroom) and mapped out on the floor plan of the new house or apartment, so that the movers know exactly where to take each item. Don’t forget to label the boxes with their contents (so that your parents know where to find what after the move) and to include any special handling instructions you deem necessary;
- Minimize change – take pictures of your parents’ old home before packing it for the move, so that you can help make their new place feel cozier and more familiar by arranging the furnishings and decorations in the same way as they were before the move.
When all the moving preparations are complete, you have one final challenge to face – The Big Day itself.
Stage 4: Moving Day
Emotions are certain to be running high on moving day – the culmination of months of planning and packing, grieving and struggling to accept the change. You need to be extra careful to be able to keep everything running smoothly and prevent incidents.
Rule 1 – Be present on moving day to supervise the moving activities and the emotional state of your loved ones.
Rule 2 – Take all the necessary precautionary measures to avoid accidents and injuries during the hectic moving activities.
Rule 3 – Set aside the items that should not be loaded on the moving truck and make sure your parents have their valuables, important documents, and first-night box with them.
Rule 4 – Double check everything – walk through the house one last time to make sure nothing has been left behind.
Rule 5 – Ensure a safe and comfortable trip for your senior loved ones – take them to their new home in your own car (if they’re moving short distance) or arrange for them to fly to their final destination (if they’re moving across the country).
Once the move is over, help your parents settle in and make their new place feel like home. Make sure their belongings are in the right places and they’re able to navigate freely through their new living quarters. Take them out for a walk to explore the neighborhood together. Show them important places like post offices and medical centers, but do not forget pleasant parks, farm markets, and senior clubs where they can relax, have some fun, and meet new people. Introduce them to the neighbors and consider throwing a housewarming party – new friendly relationships will do your elderly loved ones a lot of good.
If your parents have moved to a retirement community (or an assisted living facility), make sure they know how to reach the community’s staff when they need assistance.
Whatever the situation, do not forget that it is your love and respect for your elderly parents that will help them overcome any difficulties and adjust to their new life. Make sure you’re there for them whenever they need you.
Source: My Moving Reviews