Do your parents still live in the home where you grew up? Are there notches on the door frame that mark your growth as a child? Is there a spot in the backyard where you buried your first goldfish? Do you know where everyone sits at a holiday dinner? Does the kitchen smell of mom’s cookies? And do the worn tools in the garage fit your father’s hands perfectly?
If you feel this many emotions toward your childhood home, how do you think your aging loved one may feel? For a senior, who can no longer live independently, a move can be very challenging. You need to be sensitive. Understand that physical, emotional, and cognitive changes can affect their ability to participate in a move.
Here are some tips for making the move a little easier:
Ease the stress.
Many seniors can be distressed because they feel a loss of control when moving from their home. Communicate with your loved one every step of the way. Reinforce the need to downsize for their health and personal wellbeing. Don’t surprise them with boxes and a moving truck in the driveway. You need to give them choices and ask them to participate in the move. Allow your loved one sufficient time to help you sort through the years of memories.
Make a realistic floor plan of their new home. This will help you determine what furniture is needed and how it will fit in the space. Make sure everyone, who is helping, has a clear vision of what they will need. Your loved one will be more comfortable in their new home if they are surrounded by loved and cherished items, but make sure these are appropriately sized for the space. The rest of their items should be sold, donated, or given to family members. Your loved one may be happy or comforted to share furniture or kitchen items with a young couple in their first home or a grandchild heading off to college.
Surrounded with support.
Surround your loved one with family and friends to support and help with the sorting, boxing, donating, and moving. More hands will help make light work. Many people are emotionally attached to their items. This is a great opportunity for your loved ones to share stories about their treasures. You may find out things that you never knew! Learn about their wild travel adventures, marriage advice, family history, cooking secrets, or tearful stories through the objects in their home.
Once your loved one or parent has moved into their new home, take the time to clean, repair, and prep the house to be sold, rented, or passed to a relative. Make a budget and ask for help to paint, scrub, fix, or mend the garden. Or to relieve stress, hire help if that fits in the budget.
Take care of yourself.
Don’t underestimate the toll that a move can have on you. You may also be going through some big changes. Perhaps you are taking on the role of caregiver, selling your childhood home, or grieving the loss of a parent. This move can be emotionally and physically draining for you too. Stay positive, eat healthy, and get a good night’s sleep.