Are you looking to help move a senior loved one into a new home, or moving both parents into a senior community or retirement village? Moving someone’s lifetime of belongings from one house to another can be a particularly stressful and challenging experience for all parties. There are numerous scenarios on why the move could be happening; the of a death of a partner, their house has gotten too big, they are struggling to cope and need extra care, all the above circumstance will usually require downsizing and this can be very daunting time of change. Adult children and care givers will want to ensure the transition goes smoothly, tending to their health, finances and logistics. The following article by professional organiser Sydney – Mooving Matters hopes to provide useful tips and helpful advice to alleviate stress and how to stream line the senior move process, helping ease them to adjusting to their new home and surroundings sooner.
How to help with moving the elderly
If your elderly relative needs additional support during a move, particularly if you can’t be present, Movers and packers; full service packing and moving and unpacking services can really help.
Topping the list of the most difficult aspect of moving for seniors is the culling of their possessions as they look downsize their home.
“As a majority of our senior clients have been living the same house all their life, it can become very stressful and disorientating to make decisions on what to take with them,” Home organiser Anne Maree says. “This is when family and friends and or a qualified removalists and professional organiser team such as ours step in. The main objective is to keep them calm and to not be overly hands-on throughout the move”.
“Prior to the move we have our all women decluttering services specialists to help sort, cull and organise clients’ belongings. In most cases our clients can’t bring everything to the new house if they are downsizing. We believe taking snap shots of their existing display cabinets so that everything returns back the same way is an excellent idea – it is the elderly that tend to worry about these aspects of moving to a new environment, they want continuity”.
“It is essential seniors need someone to help over see their move, especially if they don’t have family or friends to assist, that’s where home organisers are a god send. The elderly get very tired very quickly, and at times forgetful. It is always good thinking to have a well packed “Essentials” go to box containing important medications, and any items they may require immediately so there is not any confusion or upsetting situations on moving day.”
“A great tip is to also make sure they have all necessary local phone numbers at their finger tips and that their new bedroom is set up perfectly for the first night with all the absolute essentials at arm’s length.”
Below is a “how to list” and ideas to manage a senior move:
1. Communication and Choice – Get them involved
Seniors are usually very emotionally invested in their home; there will be sadness and apprehension about the pending move to a new one. Firstly ensure to make time to chat about the move with them but also allow them time to grieve the pending change. Talk to them about where they will be living next, the new neighbourhood and community and why they are moving, this will help make them feel more comfortable about the transition and hopefully make it smoother. Seniors tend to get stressed when there is a perceived loss of control in their life, so give them as much love, understanding and choice as they or you collaboratively organise and set their move in motion.
Packing, the physical aspect of the move is where most seniors will require a lot of assistance with but at the same time be careful not to take over or make them feel useless. With numerous years worth of sentimental objects, it more than likely they will need to get rid of items but remember to involve them in the decision making process of what is to move with them and what will be ultimately discarded. If you can’t help during this time bring in trusted move management specialists and professional home organisers to provide a head start and hand along the whole move process.
If your elderly relative is unwell and unable to pack at all, they can still assist. Have them sit in a comfortable chair near where you are sorting and packing so that they can easily discuss and help guide you as you undertaking the moving process.
Always remember it is their home when you arrive at the new place, and you must ask them or place things where they prefer things to go and can easily find things or reach them. Never just assume and place things where you like or think they should go.
2. Where to Start? How to plan effectively a seniors move well in advance
It’s always a good idea if you have the time, plan the move for a few months to even a year coming. Move management starts with decluttering and sorting through the accumulation of years of belongings which can be a very hard, exhausting and cause emotionally agony. Elderly people also need time to adjust to the change and process so you don’t want them to feel forced into moving before they are mentally ready. Below are key points to get you going:
- Make lists & keep a notebook – Just for the move and keep it on you at all times, and whenever you think of something you can write it down. Include to-do lists, a calendar/timeline, things you’re likely to forget, questions about the new residence, floor plans. Even anecdotes or historical notes about possessions are also great to capture. Although the notebook may not be particularly orderly, at least you’ll know where to find the info during the busy time.
- Request estimates from reputable moving and packing companies – Some fees may be negotiable especially if you plan ahead and schedule the move for off peak times.
- Set a date – As soon as possible lock in a firm date for the move and inform those it effects most.
- Take photos – Before families or friends embark on the sorting and home organising process, it helps to have photographs and a sketch plan of what they are going to. What and how many rooms need to be furnished? What furniture items do they need and will their existing items ones fit or last in the new place?
- Make a floor plan – Or template of the new home. Be sure measurements are accurate, and reflect placement of doors, windows, appliances, storage etc. Best to know precisely how much space you will have and not left guessing or fall short.
- Consider accessibility – Be sure to check accessibility points to new home if there are any mobility issues involved. You will want to determine the number of stairs and alternate paths of travel, there are any elevators or lifts? Is the new home is wheelchair accessible? I is wise to visit the new home ahead of time if possible to install safety measures like handles in the shower or near the toilet, and no slip surfaces throughout. Although they may not need at the minute, there may come a day when such support devices are required.
- Weather – Before your moving day, keep an eye on the weather. Moving in the cold or during storms is not ideal and can be especially difficult for seniors, who often have weaker immune systems and are generally more fragile. If you know you’re planning a move during the winter months, have a backup plan in case as the last thing you want is to have your loved one end up in the emergency room with pneumonia or, worse, have them end up in hospital with a broken hip from a fall.
If finances allow or you just don’t have enough time to assist, consider hiring Mooving Matters, your trusted movers and packers, and decluttering experts who can help with your senior relocations.
3. Get family on board & divide tasks
It’s impossible to expect an elderly person to sort and pack their whole house in a weekend but you can get them to start to do a small area of packing if they are able. Its best to logically work through one area or cupboard at a time so it doesn’t overwhelm them with the enormity of the task and get them flustered. Mooving Matters would agree it makes sense to get them to begin in a room that has the least sentimental meaning such as spare or guest bedroom or bathroom. It’s also best to keep packing to a few hours a day.
4. Sort and Organise
Go through the house room by room and item by item with your support team or family members who can help out. It’s a good time saving idea to categorize objects into 4 main groups to make the process more streamlined:
- items to be moved,
- keepsakes to be maintained
- items to be sold or donated, and
- items to be thrown out.
A few points to consider when sorting and retaining or throwing items:
- Shred, toss or give away obvious items such as old cancelled cheque books, outdated food or medications, clothes, or extraneous household items that consume space.
- Best to ask an accountant or tax person what records need to be retained.
- Undertake the decluttering process gradually in months leading up to move. You’ll be surprised at how much you can eliminate before you delve into quandaries of dealing with sentimental possessions.
- Collate and retain important papers & records including deeds, wills, Powers of Attorney, medical records, diplomas and degrees, birth certificates, passports. These can be in a file cabinet or safe-deposit box, but let key family members know where they are and have access to them.
- Inform grown children to no longer use the home as a storage space. Now is the time for them to claim their keepsakes and take them with them.
- Try to limit sorting and packing takes to no more than a couple of hours per day for your parent or elderly person. Try to keep it relaxed and social, enjoy a cuppa or glass of wine and always take well earnt breaks.
In the midst of such a move its key to remember, these are not just things you’re moving about or discarding; they are often have priceless memories attached to them. So be open to their feelings and your own feelings, especially if this was your childhood home as well.
5. Clean and Repair
After the major task of organising and packing is completed, there is work that still needs to tackled. Regardless on if the house is going to be sold, rented or passed on to another relative — the house still needs to be thoroughly cleaned and essential repairs made where needed. It’s better to take care of major maintenance issues as soon as possible and all at once rather than dealing with them later or when it gets worse while the house is for sale or once new occupiers have moved in.
6. Be Patient & Calm
Calm and patience is important when helping your senior relative move homes. If they seem to be taking a long time packing an area and keep getting distracted by old photographs, etc please leave them be and let them enjoy this moment. This is all about enjoying the journey of the move.
As one grows old their brain is often not as sharp as it use to be and their response time is slower than what you have patience for. Rushing them won’t get you anywhere or anything accomplished.
In the midst of this process as most professional organisers agree one needs to be kind and listen to their elderly relative or friend’s treasured stories. One must place themselves in their shoes, appreciate their life history, and remember, you are also there to provide both physical and emotional support. You will need the same respect and time one day.
7. Hire trusted movers and packers
Professional “movers that pack for you” company Mooving Matters can take care of the move from start to finish, including arranging decluttering services as well as full service packing and unpacking packages. As a home organiser they have all the right equipment to move large bulky items with ease and therefore reducing the risks of costly breakages or damage. It also means your relatives won’t feel obliged to help or won’t feel guilty watching you carry boxes back and forth to a truck.
Mooving matters can help you organise a moving plan and schedule that suits both yourself and your elderly relative or friend ensuring a smooth transition to their new home.
8. Plan the Moving Day
There are differing strategies for moving your senior loved one into their new home and truthfully a full service mover and packer service is the easiest way to go, and doesn’t have to be the most expensive. They will load everything, deliver to its destination and put things in the right place. There are numerous degrees of DIY options available too where you can rent a moving truck or trailer. But, even the DIY option of renting a truck isn’t cheap when you factor in the time and fuel consumption.
Experienced movers and packers understand and will look after your precious cargo of all: your loved ones. Most senior people have outgrown their road-trip days and probably wouldn’t be too keen on arduous long haul drive. If you do decide to pack and move everything yourself, consider arranging for your senior loved one to fly to their destination if its interstate. If they have any health issues, these of course need to be considered– but we hope these tips help you better plan and execute your elder loved one’s next move.
General check list for moving senior persons:
- sorting and decision-making
- arranging the move
- arranging for charity pick up, garage sale, estate sale or consignment shops
- unpacking boxes and arranging new home.
- If pets are involved, be sure to have a plan for them to be moved and accommodated in their new home.
- If needed, change providers for utilities such as gas and electricity.
- Refill prescriptions in advance.
- Complete address changes:
- Post Office
- credit cards
- bank accounts
- investment/retirement accounts
- Medicare & Social Security
- voter’s registration
- family & friends contact details
- driver’s license/car registration
- newspaper/magazine subscriptions
- social clubs & places of worship
- notify lawyer, accountant, insurance agent, other
- Welcome others to help with packing chores: family members, friends, the move specialist or home organiser company. With everything pre-labelled, the task is much easier and straight forward.
- Label all boxes with their destination room/area in the new residence.
- Moving companies can supply specialized containers, e.g., wardrobe boxes, so you can leave clothes on hangers.
- Pack “open first” box(es) or Essentials Kit. The contents are for setting up sleeping accommodations and the bathroom. Include items such as fresh bedding, soap, toilet paper, toothpaste & toothbrush, comb, nightclothes, towel, plate and utensils, one change of clothes, flashlight, tape, scissors.
- Pack other important items that you’ll keep with you during the move: new lease or residence contract, keys, medications, legal documents, phone / mobile, address book, first-aid kit, extra cash, your relocation notebook. Label this container. Valuables such as jewellery should be in a safe or lockable box unless items are worn regularly.
- Be sure you have a written contract from the moving company and clear idea of coverage for lost or damaged possessions.
- Get a firm time for their arrival, at both the old and new residences.
- Check inventory lists.
- Check payment options: credit card or check?
- Have someone assigned to meet the movers at the new residence. Be sure they have a key! If this is a facility, be sure the manager is expecting you.
- Ensure that all boxes are properly labelled.
- Use the “open first” boxes to set up the bedroom and bathroom immediately.
- Prepare to spend a few days unpacking and organising. Get someone to help if you can as work as quickly as you can to make this new residence to feel homelike.
11. Settling In
Plan to call and or visit often with your parent or elderly friend. They will need time to adjust to their new surroundings which may take days, weeks or months. Each persons’ reactions differ after such a change process. Some people can just be relieved at not being alone and no longer having to maintain a large home. Others may be scared, withdrawn and worried about making new friends. In some shape or form many do grieve the loss of their old community and friends and lifestyle. On a positive note it’s great when one feels they should have undertaken the move years ago.
Embarking on a seniors move and need a team of trusted and caring Movers and packers? To arrange a complementary on-site inspection of your property by Mooving Matters, your home organiser Sydney or to simply discuss our ‘Ultimate full service packing + moving’ experience call (02) 93375333 or visit us at moovingmatters.com.au.