Whether moving a mother across the country into a new home, or moving both parents into a senior community, the process can be challenging. Countless scenarios may require the need to move a senior parent from their own home, and their adult children will want to ensure the transition goes smoothly, tending to their health, finances and logistics.
These six tips can make this difficult process easier:
1. Empower Your Loved One: Communication and Choice
Seniors can be emotionally vested in the home they’re leaving, and it’s expected that there will be sadness and apprehension about the move. It can be a tough conversation to have with your aging parent, but give them time to grieve the change and talk about where they will be living and why they are moving, in order to help make the transition smoother. When seniors are asked to leave their longtime homes, a frequent cause of distress is their perceived loss of control, so give your loved one as much choice as possible as they plan and implement the move.
2. Plan Effectively
Before families begin the sorting and organizing process, it will help to have a visual of what their getting into. What rooms need to be furnished? How many square feet is the new residence? Writing for AARP, Ann Goyer recommends plotting the floor plan of your loved one’s new home on graph paper, and suggests cutting out pieces to represent furniture.
3. Enlist Relatives
This will undoubtedly be a big job, so enlist help from your family to help out. Encourage siblings or other close family members to take a few days off of work. Even children and younger members in the family can participate. Surrounding your senior parents with loved ones who are supportive and encouraging could help ease the emotional stress of moving as well.
4. Sort and Organize
Moving your elderly parents will involve downsizing. Go through the house item by item with your support team. You can categorize objects to make the process easier: items to be moved, keepsakes to be left with family, items to be sold or donated, and items to be thrown out. Don’t allow yourself to become a packing robot lacking feelings. Honor the emotional attachment to personal belongings and allow your senior parent to reminisce as you help sort out their possessions. Remember, these are not just things you’re moving; they’re memories. Also, be open to your own emotions, especially if this was your childhood home.
5. Clean and Repair
After the organizing and packing is complete, there is work that still needs to be done. Whether the house is going to be sold, rented or passed on to another relative—the general requirements are the same. The house should be cleaned, and they should consider making any required repairs now before any get worse. It’s better to take care of maintenance issues all at once rather than dealing with them later while the house is for sale (or after renters move in).
6. Plan the Moving Day
There are a few different strategies for moving your senior loved one into their new home. A full service mover is the easiest way to go, but also the most expensive. They will load everything, deliver to its destination and put things in place. We looked at quotes from movers and found the cost of moving the contents of a two bedroom home across the country exceeds $6,000. Families can save some money on the move by using a self-service mover, which means their family will load the moving truck, but the cargo will be hauled by a professional mover. Then there’s the do-it-yourself (DIY) option where you can rent a moving truck or trailer. But, even the DIY option of renting a U-Haul or Ryder is not cheap: a move from Atlanta to Los Angeles in a 26 foot truck could exceed $3,000 when you factor in gasoline.
This discussion of costs doesn’t even mention the most precious cargo of all: your loved ones. Most senior people have outgrown their road-trip days and probably wouldn’t be too keen on a 32 hour drive. So even if you do decide to haul everything yourself, consider arranging for your senior loved one to fly to their destination. If they have any health issues, read our article with tips for senior travel.
Of course each family’s circumstances are unique, so we’re hesitant to give blanket advice – but we hope these tips help you better plan and execute your elder loved one’s next move.
Do you have tips for our readers or a personal moving story you’d like to share? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.