Moving your elderly relatives into a new place can be a really daunting task, whether they are moving downsizing into a smaller home or moving to a senior residential community. The packing, physical labor of moving, and unpacking can be stressful to anyone, and especially to seniors who are moving a whole lifetime of collected memories and keepsakes. In honor of Senior Citizens Day this week, we wanted to share some advice on successfully completing a move with a senior.
Communication is key
Most seniors develop emotional attachment to their house and possessions, and having to say goodbye can make them feel as though they have lost their sense of control in life. Give them plenty of time to grieve and then slowly start shifting the conversation to the new living situation. Keep the conversation positive as you talk about where they are moving and why the change will be good. Your excitement can rub off on them and help them see the benefits of their situation. Let them know each detail of their move day ahead of time, such as the people who will be there, the timeline of how the day will progress, and your plans for unpacking and “nesting” in their new home to help ease their mind.
How big is the new residence? Which belongings of your relative will be able to fit, and what will need to be donated or thrown out? Look at the dimension of the new house or senior living space and really plan out the layout of the new place. Talk with them and pin down exactly what they want to take and where they want to put each item of furniture. Not only will this planning process help your movers work efficiently, but it can also help set your family member’s expectations about their new home.
Reach out to relatives and friends
Any type of move is a huge transition, and especially for a senior who hasn’t relocated in many years. Reach out to the siblings and other members in the family who can help relieve the stress and encourage the senior in this time of change. Even getting the kids involved can be a good idea–there’s nothing like grandchildren to take your mind off a daunting task! It may even be necessary to schedule the senior relative to spend the day with another family member as you coordinate Moving Day. This way, he/she can enjoy the day without having to direct the movers, travel between the old and new residences, and go through the stress of watching their belongings move out of a beloved home.
Time to organize
Moving a senior most likely involves downsizing, and you need adequate time to sort and pack up each room. It’s time to decide what to keep, what to ditch, what to donate, and what to pass on. Remember you are packing up lots of memories–not just “things.” Be extra sensitive as you help them sort through their precious memories and make those tough decisions of how to get rid of old belongings. You can help ease the pain by suggesting the unneeded items be donated to a cause your relative cares about passionately. And geriatric experts even recommend encouraging your senior family member to relive memories as they go through the downsizing process. Recalling happy times can bring closure more quickly than trying to suppress those emotions.
At TWO MEN AND A TRUCK, we offer specialized senior moving services, and all of our movers go through a special Senior Sensitivity Training before ever going on a move. We even offer a senior discount for these moves! And we offer all-inclusive packing and unpacking services for older customers who can’t physically handle the work. Give us a call or text at 615-248-6288 and we’ll take care of the rest!