There comes a point in every person’s life when they just aren’t able to live on their own anymore. Whether due to health conditions or cognitive decline, it’s often best for seniors to move into an assisted living facility or back in with adult children, so they can get the everyday assistance they need to live a fruitful, dignified life.
Unfortunately, before they can get the everyday assistance they need, seniors need to move out of their current living situation and into their new one. This can be a jarring experience for them—especially if they’ve been living on their own for years (or decades). Not only is the process itself disruptive to their everyday life, it can cause them anguish or anxiety that lingers on after the move is completed.
There are things you can do to relocate elderly parents and grandparents with minimal disruption Follow the tips below to ease the transition from independent living to assisted living, and to make the process as simple and straightforward as possible for seniors on the move.
Don’t purge, store
After many years on this earth, most seniors have accumulated no small treasure trove of belongings. They very likely have more things than they need or could ever use! When it comes time to move in with someone else, there’s often not enough space for these things.
While your first thought might be to downsize and purge your elderly parent’s belongings before a move, realize that this might make them extremely anxious—even distraught. Seniors don’t just have decades of stuff built up, they also have decades of memories and sentimental feelings, too. What you might see as junk, they might’ve kept for a reason.
Instead of purging, talk to your elderly parent about boxing up some of these things are putting them in storage. This is a good compromise and one that many seniors will be more open to. You’re not getting rid of their things—you’re merely storing them. You can even take them to a storage facility so they can see the unit. It helps ease the transition for them to know that you’re not simply discarding their things—you’re taking the time to store them appropriately.
Show them their space ahead of time
We all know how fast moving day can come and go, and how quickly professional movers work to get your items from Point A to Point B. Before you know it, you’re out of your old home and into your new space! Unfortunately, this might be a little too fast for seniors.
Before moving day, take the time to give your senior a tour of their new facilities—whether they’re moving in with you or going to stay at an assisted living facility. Seniors want to know what they’re moving into and have context for their upcoming move. No one wants to move from a space they’re familiar with into the unknown in a single day! Showing them where they’re moving and letting them get a feel for their new space will ease the transition and give them some confidence about the upcoming relocation. It’s even easier if they’re already familiar with this space—if they come to your home for the holidays each year, for example.
Keep your senior the focus of attention
It can be anxiety-inducing or even depressing to watch as people all around you work like ants to box up, pack up and move your stuff—while you sit there and do nothing. It’s even worse when it appears that those people might not have any regard for your belongings. This is the case for many seniors, who feel like a burden or an inconvenience as they sit idly by during a move.
While you might be intently focused on the move, make sure someone is staying by your senior’s side the whole time. Not only will this give them the comfort they need during a trying time, it’ll also help prevent them from hurting themselves. Many seniors want to help in same way—lifting boxes, packing, etc. Keeping them occupied and engaged during a move is the best way to make sure they’re not feeling anxious or putting themselves in harm’s way during the relocation process.
Consider the conditions and mobility
If you’re moving during the winter season, make sure you’re strongly considering the ice and snow outside, along with the wintertime temperatures. Clear a path from their old facilities to the vehicle you’re using to transport them, and from the curb to their new place. Not only is this important for senior safety, it’s also a good rule of thumb for protecting movers!
Winter isn’t the only season with weather woes. Spring and summer storms can make rain and wind elements to contend with during a move. Make sure your seniors have the support they need to relocate safely regardless of the conditions.
It’s also worth considering any obstacles going into and out of facilities. If your elderly parent is in a wheelchair, is there accessibility at their new place? Are there railings to brace with as they go up stairs? You can’t always count on ADA-compliance outright, so make sure you’re considering these mobility issues and finding a way to accommodate for them during a move.
Treat seniors with dignity
You might want to get a move over and done with as quickly as possible—who could blame you? But for seniors, this move represents a significant transition in their lives—one that they might not be in a hurry to complete. They’re moving out of their home and into a place that’s not their home, no matter how much you try to make it feel that way. The situation needs to be handled with no small amount of understanding, empathy and care.
Take the appropriate time to help your senior get adjusted during their move and don’t trivialize their concerns. When you take the time to answer their questions, show them you care and go out of your way to accommodate them, they’ll feel better about the situation as a whole and make the transition smoother on themselves.