6 Practical Things to Consider When Moving an Aging Loved One

Claire Samuels
By Claire SamuelsApril 18, 2020
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Relocating a senior loved one can bring them closer to family, ensure a safer home environment, and lead to a more active lifestyle. Whether your parent is planning a move to your home, downsizing to a senior apartment, or transitioning to an assisted living community, these six tips can help you plan.

1. Delegate moving responsibilities

Many seniors have spent their lives collecting meaningful possessions. If your loved one is downsizing, they’ll have to leave things behind.

  • Start small
    Suggest your loved one start with a room with low sentimental value, like a bathroom or guest suite. This will help them ease into the moving process with a clear sense of accomplishment.
  • Help make tough decisions
    If your loved one has been in their house for years, even unimportant things can seem essential. Offer to help sort items into “give away” and “keep” piles, and gently suggest changes.
  • Gift to family and friends
    It’s easier to give away items when they’re going to a good home. If a prized possession just can’t fit in their new space, see if a family member or friend will accept it.

2. Explore using senior relocation services

If you can’t be with your loved one during their moving prep, seek expert help. “Senior move managers” are companies that specialize in relocating, downsizing, and organizing aging individuals.

  • Hire an expert
    An outside expert can simplify the emotional aspect of moving. Even if you’re available to help with a loved one’s transition, having a third party to help make tough decisions can reduce tension and fighting among family.
  • Find a company that focuses on seniors
    The National Association of Senior Move Managers hires professionals with backgrounds in gerontology, social work, health care, psychology, and project management to provide all the resources for a seamless move.
  • Get help for after the move
    Many senior relocation services also partner with companies who can help with after-move processes like cleaning, staging, estate sales, and donations.

3. Plan moving transportation around your elderly loved one’s needs

Many older adults can’t withstand a long road trip without assistance or stops, while others may require full-service medical transport.

  • Plan on extra travel time
    A drive that takes you six hours alone could be extended by multiple stops. Be sure to ask regularly if loved ones need to stretch their legs or make pit stops on long rides.
  • Consider mobility
    If flying is the best option, book nonstop flights for those with mobility issues.Contact the airline in advance with special requests like boarding assistance, curb-to-gate escort, or special seating accommodations. If your loved one hasn’t flown in a while, be sure they’re informed about new safety protocols.
  • Add security for medical transit
    If your aging relative needs extra help, look into senior-focused transportation companies that offer non-emergency medical transit designed to move people with extra needs like oxygen tanks and wheelchairs. Some companies even provide transport with beds and registered nurse attendants, though these services can be pricey.

4. Handle health care ahead of the move

Your parent or senior loved one will need new health care providers. Do your research, get referrals from their current doctors, and try to set appointments soon after their arrival to avoid long waiting lists.

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  • Work with a care manager
    geriatric care manager is familiar with local healthcare providers, in-home care agencies, and volunteer resources in the destination city. They can also arrange advanced medical transport for the move.
  • Transfer prescriptions
    Conduct a medication review before the move, and have important prescriptions transferred to a new pharmacy in advance.
  • Contact insurance providers
    Make sure the doctors and specialists your loved one needs in the new location are in-network and covered by their health insurance plan. Call the number on the back of their insurance card, or go online for a list of in-network providers to avoid hefty fees.

5. Make the new location feel like home

Familiar possessions and arrangements can be comforting during times of transition. Give your loved one’s new space personal touches to make it feel like home.

  • Organize thoughtfully
    If the photos on the living room wall have been in the same order for as long as you can remember, replicate it in the new home. Display trinkets in the same order, and bring accents like throw pillows, even if new furniture has to be purchased. If the kitchen is smaller, put Mom’s pots and pans where you know she’ll be able to find them.
  • Get the new layout
    Have dimensions available so you know exactly what will fit where and you won’t have to make tough decisions once you arrive. If your loved one likes design projects, encourage them to plan out the home in advance for a smoother transition.
  • Enjoy new opportunities
    Has Mom always wanted a bright accent wall? Would Dad love a new desk? Some positive updates can make a new space exciting.

6. Talk about the benefits of your loved one’s new Home

When someone has lived in one place for 30 or more years, it’s easy for them to dwell on the things they’ll leave behind. To help loved ones move forward, remind them of the new opportunities that will come from their transition.

  • Focus on positives in the new location
    If your mom loves art, see if there are painting classes at local senior centers, or if a museum is looking for volunteer docents.
  • Re-create routines
    If your parents are weekly churchgoers, suggest that they call around the new town in advance to select a congregation to welcome them.
  • Find things that make them happy
    If your loved one is moving into an assisted living community, go online to find activity calendars and point out amenities they’ll enjoy.

Claire Samuels
Claire Samuels

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