As a young adult, moving away from the home you grew up in can be one the most exciting times of your life. You gain independence and you feel as if your whole life is ahead of you. The possibilities are endless.
As a senior citizen, leaving the home you raised your family in can be just the opposite. You may be giving up some of your independence and the bulk of your life experiences are now memories of the past. The possibilities are somewhat limited—and the process of relocating and downsizing your living situation can be overwhelming and a bit depressing.
Create a Smooth Transition
If you are helping your parent(s) downsize, you know that many decisions need to be made and that moving is hard. So, how do you make the process as easy and convenient as possible for everyone? And how do you make your mom and/or dad feel it is a positive experience rather than something forced on them? Here are a few tips:
- Allow them to make choices. Don’t control the entire process and make all of the decisions. Make sure they are sufficiently involved in the decision-making process. Keep in mind that too many choices can be overwhelming, but too few can make it more of a challenge.
- Be sensitive to the care giving roles changing. Parents might have difficulty seeing your relationship adjust to you being the caregiver. Ease into your new role and help them through the transition.
- Focus on the positives of the move, not the negatives. Moving to a smaller home or an assisted living facility allows seniors to be more involved in the things they love and not worry about the things that don’t matter (like housework, etc.)
- Provide emotional and physical support. Elderly moves are as much about the mental adjustments as they are the physical ones, so make sure you help your parents in both ways.
Plan and Organize the Move
In addition to the nuances of dealing with changing roles and the heightened emotions of a major lifestyle change, you will need to deal with the stress caused by moving to a new home. Moving takes a lot of time and effort. The best way to minimize the stress of moving is to be as prepared and organized as possible, especially for seniors who have acquired a lifetime of belongings.
The steps of downsizing include:
- Decluttering: disposal or donation of unneeded possessions
- Distribution of keepsakes and heirlooms to family members
- Record keeping: ensuring all important legal and financial paperwork is secure and accessible to family members
- Finding and hiring a moving company
- Dealing with utility companies that provide service to current and new homes
- Address change notifications: post office, financial institutions, Medicare/Social Security, etc.
- Sorting and packing: spread out over time to prevent exhaustion
- The day of the move: transportation, meals, possible overnight accommodations
- Unpacking and setting up the new home
- Settling in and adjustment period
Allow Enough Time
The most important aspect of creating a smooth transition and a successful move is time. Be sure to start your planning and organizing well in advance of the eventual move. Time flys by very quickly for seniors, and downsizing is a major event, so six months to a year of upfront conversation and preparation is appropriate.
Learn More: Downsizing a Home: A Checklist for Caregivers (Family Caregiver Alliance)
Printer-Friendly Version: Downsizing a Home: A Checklist for Caregivers (Family Caregiver Alliance)
Home Away from Home: Relocating Your Parents (Family Caregiver Alliance)
Caregiver & Senior Living Resources (Caring.com)