If your parents are elderly, chances are the time will come when they need your help moving to a smaller home or to an assisted-living facility or a nursing home. Between making the decision to move, to finding a new home, to downsizing and packing belongings, moving your parents can be quite stressful. It can also be a very emotional time, especially if your parents are not fully onboard with the need to move. The following tips can help make moving your parents and their belongings a little less difficult.
Making the Decision to Move
You might see signs that your parents are struggling with living alone without assistance. These might include forgetting to pay bills or being unable to keep up with cleaning or maintaining their house. The subject of moving can be very difficult to broach. You can expect that your parents will be sad and apprehensive about moving. It is important to be understanding of their fear of loss of control and allow them time to:
- Grieve about leaving familiar surroundings
- Understand and accept the reasons for the move
- Have a say about where they will be moving
The Big Purge
Months before the actual move, help them go through their personal belongings and household items to determine what they want to take with them and what will be disposed of or given away. This process can take months because your parents should be allowed the time to sort through their things, which may have great sentimental value.
During this process, you need to be realistic about how big their new home will be. It helps to make a sketch of the new living space to determine how many of their belongings will fit. If you paint a realistic picture of what furnishings and other items will fit in their new home, it will help you—and them—decide how many things they can take with them.
You need to respect a parent’s decision to keep certain items that may have sentimental value even though they are unlikely to use them again. Try to be diplomatic and make suggestions about storage or compromise with them if they want to take more things than they will actually have room for in their new residence. They might decide to find a new home for some cherished items rather than throw them away.
Be Systematic About Packing
About a month before the scheduled move is usually a good time to start packing items that won’t be needed right away. Depending on the season, that could mean certain types of clothing and holiday decorations.
About a week or two before moving your parents, begin packing one room at a time. Clearly label the boxes with the name of the destined room in the new home. That will help the movers know where to put each box. Do not pack items that your parents are using regularly until the day of the actual move. It is a good idea to pack a box with clothing, medicine, and food your parents will need during the first few days after the move and set it aside.
With a little planning and a lot of patience, you can make the process of moving your parents less complicated and, most important, less emotionally draining for all of you.