Watching our parents age is never easy. There typically comes a moment when it is clear that living on their own and taking care of a house is no longer working. But for many aging parents, the decision to leave their home is a tough one. They don’t want to be a burden on their children, nor do they want to give up their independence. So if you are facing the task of relocating one or both of your parents, there are some important things to consider. Here are our best tips for how to help your aging parents move.
Include your parents in the discussion about moving
For many seniors, the perceived loss of control and independence that comes with aging is difficult. Just how much choice your parents have about where they move depends on their needs, of course. But if there are choices that you can offer, it can help them feel involved and empowered.
Talk with your parent(s) about where they are moving to. Show them pictures, tell them about the amenities, or take them for a visit if it’s appropriate. If they are moving in with you, talk to them about how to set up their room. Explore what life together will look like on a day-to-day basis. Then enlist their help with packing as much as is appropriate.
Make a detailed moving plan
When moving your own house, you might be ok with a little bit of chaos. But a detailed plan is important when helping your aging parents move. Confusion and constantly-changing plans can make the moving process even more stressful for a parent who isn’t excited to leave their home.
Gather the floor plans for your parents’ new living space, including measurements. You’ll want to know what needs to be furnished, and how much space there is for packing purposes. If they are moving to your home, for example, you may not have need for their furniture. An assisted-living facility, on the other hand, would likely require that they bring at least some of their own furnishings. Before you get to the next step, establish a list of what you need to bring.
Downsize your parents’ belongings
This can be one of the more challenging parts of moving your aging parents, if only from a logistical standpoint. If your parents have lived in their home for a long time, they might have decades of accumulated belongings tucked in every corner and closet. Enlist the help of family members and dedicate some time to sorting through everything. Declutter the house room by room, and create designated piles for the following categories:
- Items to be moved to their new home
- Sentimental items or keepsakes to be left with family
- Items to be sold or donated
- Items to be thrown out
- The “not quite sure” pile
For many items there may be a clear path: old clothes can be donated, photo albums go to your family, and so on. But for some items, you may wish to consult your parents about what to do. This is where the “not quite sure” pile can be helpful. Just make sure not to put half the items in the house here!
Identify nearby resources immediately
For many with aging parents, it’s worrying to imagine that your parents could injure themselves and be unable to get help. Whether you are moving your parents to your own home or to another facility, identify all nearby resources as soon as possible. Find an appropriate doctor and any necessarily specialists. Determine which hospitals are closest, and learn about your parents’ new neighbors. Find out if there are any senior centers, libraries, or other spaces where seniors gather to be social. After all, your parents need to stay entertained!
Switch the utilities on time
When your parents move out of their old home and into their new one, be sure to check with their utility companies. Ensure they’re all paid up and the account is cancelled on the proper day; you don’t want their power shut off early! Similarly, find out if they have any other subscriptions that need to be cancelled. Consider things like television and internet, lawn maintenance, or newspaper delivery.
Hire a team of professional movers
When moving day comes around, it’s important that you can be there to support your aging parents. So rather than dividing your time between packing, hauling boxes around, and spending time with your parents, bring in the movers. We can pack, transport, and even do some of the setup in your parents’ new home.
Then while someone else takes care of the boxes, you can be present with your parents. And that’s the most important part, after all.