Whether a family is moving a widowed mother across the country into their own home or moving both parents into a senior community, the process is always tough. Countless scenarios may necessitate relocating an elderly parent from their long-time home, but each family’s underlying concerns are fundamentally consistent: We want to make sure their emotional well-being and health are being tended to, while also taking finances and logistical considerations into account. In other words, we want to make sure the transition is handled sensitively and goes smoothly.
1. Empower Your Loved One: Communication and Choice
Seniors can be emotionally vested in the home that they’re leaving, and it’s to be expected that they experience sadness and apprehension about the move. Families can give seniors time to “grieve” their loss, and talk about where they will be living and why to help make this transition smoother. When seniors are asked to leave their longtime homes, a frequent cause of distress is their perceived loss of control, so give the loved one as much choice as possible as they plan and implement the move.
2. Plan Effectively
Before families begin sorting and organizing, they will want to have a good picture, quite literally, 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 the loved one’s new home on graph paper, and suggests cutting out pieces to represent furniture.
3. Enlist Relatives
This is undoubtedly going to be a big job, so get as many people to help the families possibly can. Encourage families’ siblings or other close family members to take a few days off of work. Even children and young people in the family can participate.
4. Sort and Organize
Moving elderly parents invariably involves 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 of course items to be thrown out. But don’t allow yourself to become a packing “robot.” Be aware of everyone’s emotions and allow the senior who is moving to reminisce and wax nostalgic as your pore over 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 families have organized and packed their loved one’s things, they can’t just walk away from the home. 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 in one fell swoop, rather than dealing with them later while the house is for sale (or after renters have moved in).
There are a few different strategies for moving Seniors belongings to their new home. A full service mover is the easiest way to go, but also the most expensive. A full service mover loads everything, drives it to its destination, and puts it in place. We looked at quotes from movers and found the cost of moving the contents of a 2 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. Or they could go completely DIY, and just rent a moving truck or trailer. But even the do-it-yourself option of renting a U-Haul or Ryder is not cheap: A 26 foot U-Haul truck is $39.95 plus up to $1.29 per mile driven. A move from Atlanta to Los Angeles in a 26 ft 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 they do decide to haul everything themselves, consider arranging for the seniors to fly to their destination. If their loved one has 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 older loved one’s next move. If you have tips for our readers or a story to share, please comment below.
* Image of moving trailer from Flickr by Jeremy Wheaton, via C.C. license (commercial use allowed)