Tips to minimize all the stress.
No one likes to see their parents lose independence. After years of working and raising a family, we want our parents to be rewarded with a fulfilling retirement. Downsizing the family home and moving them into your home, assisted living, or a 55+ community can seem like the opposite of that goal. The truth is, your parents will have a safer, more vibrant retirement when they’re living in a home that meets their changing needs.
The work is just beginning once the decision has been made to transition your parents to a new home. There’s a house to be packed up, belongings to be dealt with, and a new dwelling to turn into a home. Downsizing is a demanding task, both in physical effort and emotional labor. Here’s how you can make the change as easy as possible on you and your parents.
1. Assess the Home
Start the packing journey by assessing the space in your parents’ current home compared to the layout of their new home or room. Compare the square footage of main living areas like the living room and bathroom to determine what large items to save. Note rooms that don’t exist in the new home and their furnishings; these items will need to be eliminated completely or repurposed. Assess storage areas to see how much clutter you’ll need to dispose of before moving.
2. Identify Essentials
Make a list of everything your parents will absolutely need after the move. Your list should include basics like cookware, clothing, entertainment items, and mobility aids that your parents use on a day-to-day basis. In addition, add items you know they’ll want to keep, like favorite decorations, jewelry, and handmade quilts. While not strictly necessary, these belongings go a long way toward making the new abode feel homey.
3. Pace Packing
It’s easy for elderly parents to get overwhelmed while packing up their house. Not only is it a lot of work, but it’s also incredibly emotionally draining. After living in a home for years, each room is packed with memories, and boxing them up can mark a change your parents aren’t ready to face. Permanently parting with some of those cherished items only makes the process more traumatic for a senior mourning lost independence.
Take packing slowly to reduce the emotional burden on your parents. If they’re struggling to make decisions about what to keep or discard, switch to an easier task and return to organizing another day. If it’s in the budget, consider hiring movers to help. Letting professionals pack things up makes it easier on elderly parents who aren’t ready to say goodbye. Just be sure to do your research first to find not only a reputable mover, but also the best moving company for your budget.
4. Pack a “Go Bag”
Save yourself the stress of needing to unpack the moment your parents move in by preparing a “go bag” ahead of time. This bag should include everything they’ll need to get through the first days in a new place. Pack clothing, shoes, and toiletries, as well as essential documents, medications, and phone chargers. Include a few non-essential items like a small photo album or handmade blanket to provide comfort as they settle in.
5. Stay in Contact
Just because your parents are moved in doesn’t mean the work is over. Moving is a huge change, and your parents will need support while they adjust. If you’re able, stay local for a few days so you can check in and help them find their way around. Even after you’re gone, make a point to call and video chat regularly. You’ll show your parents that they’re still valued members of the family while also keeping tabs on their wellbeing.
A move is a dreaded moment for many, but it doesn’t have to be. With careful planning and a patient, compassionate approach, you can make the transition a positive experience for your aging parents.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.
Thanks to my guest contributor Beverly Nelson. Beverly created StandUpForCaregivers, which aims to protect and advocate for the health and well-being of adult caregivers. Her goal is to build the website into an online community for caregivers.