Taking care of elderly parents is a rewarding and challenging task, and it is particularly taxing when the time comes to move them. Here are a few tips to help ease the stress on everyone involved and make the transition as smooth as possible.
Your parents may balk at the idea of downsizing to assisted living, moving in with you or embarking on any other kind of relocation. Likely, they have been in their current home for decades. It is where some of the most important moments of their lives have taken place, and they feel a strong emotional connection to where they live. Be sensitive to their feelings. When you become concerned about your parents’ safety, broach the subject of moving carefully and with tact.
Once your parents are on board with the move, call up other family members, including your siblings and any close aunts and uncles, to gather their support. Together, everyone in your family can prepare for moving day.
Become Familiar With Your Parents’ New Place
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Moving elderly parents out of their home is a big job, but it is easier when you know exactly where they are going. If you’re going to move in with elderly parents — or vice versa — you already have a good idea of how much stuff the place can hold. If you’re moving parents to assisted living, be sure to tour their new apartment and measure the dimensions of the rooms.
What if your parents are going farther than you can reasonably travel to check out their new home? There are many tips for moving your parents out of state that you can follow, but the most important thing is to communicate clearly with the facility where they’ll be settling in. You’ll glean key information that will be essential for planning the move.
Moving is a big chore at any age, but it is especially overwhelming for folks who are up in years. Months before moving day, help your parents start the packing process. It may even be a wise idea for you to create a “moving elderly parents” checklist so you don’t miss any important details.
Here are some tips for packing:
- Take it one room at a time, beginning with rooms that don’t get a lot of use. For example, there may be spare bedrooms or a garage that is full of sentimental items.
- Respect your parents’ decisions about what to keep, what to throw away, and what to put into self-storage. They may want to keep some items that you regard as clutter, but arguing about what stays and what goes will only make moving your aging parents more difficult.
- Keep things organized. Label boxes and other containers, especially if you’re going to put them in storage. Likely, you’ll be the one who is responsible for this stuff down the road after your parents pass away, and you will want to know what is in front of you.
- Enjoy this time. Moving elderly parents is the ideal time to enjoy their company as you flip through old photo albums and hear the stories behind some of your parents’ favorite items.
Sort, Sort, Sort
When you begin the packing process, your parents may want to keep almost everything. However, as time goes on, it is likely that they will become more open to selling or donating certain items. A month or a few weeks before the move, you could help your parents to organize a yard sale that will give them a little extra cash and clear out some of the stuff they no longer have a use for.
You can also help them decide what will go into a storage unit. A climate-controlled unit is the ideal place for old photo albums, sporting equipment, and countless odds and ends that your parents won’t need immediate access to.
You and your siblings are able to make good use of some of your parents’ excess furniture or other belongings. Arrange to have these items taken to your home. Your parents will probably be glad that their stuff won’t be in some stranger’s house or collecting dust in a storage unit.
Purge More Items After the Move
If you didn’t have as much time as you wanted to help your parents pack, or if they had trouble letting go of their stuff, you can do more purging after your parents have had a few weeks to settle in. Once they’re enjoying their new place, they’ll be free of the anxiety and insecurity that comes with moving, and it will be easier for them to say goodbye to nonessential items.
There are many things you can do to make sure that your aging parents experience a smooth transition to their new place, from creating an assisted living checklist to approaching the move slowly. As long as you make your parents’ feelings and needs your top priority, the process shouldn’t be too grueling.