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Moving a Loved One: What TO Do and What NOT to Do

Article Highlights

  • Moving a loved one can be stessful
  • Communicate with your loved one
  • Be patient and understanding

Moving Day

DO: If possible, plan lunch or an outing of some kind for your loved one during the move. The activity of the day can be awfully stressful and providing them with a little normalcy may go a long way in getting them settled.
Force your loved one out if they don’t want to go. If they are insistent on supervising and helping with the move, let them. It may take a bit more time, but it is their home and they should be able to stick around if that’s their desire.

DO: Stop at the grocery store the night before so you can stock the fridge for your loved one so they’re not running out late into the night for provisions.
Assume you’ll have time to do this after the move. There will be plenty of stuff to do at the house to keep you all busy. And you don’t want your loved one going a day or two without any groceries.

DO: Duplicate the layout of their old residence in the new space, as best as possible.
Change the layout of all their furniture. Continuity is key to getting your loved one comfortable in their new place.

DO: Set up your loved one’s bed, bathroom and kitchen first. Put everything in the same spot as it was in the old house, if possible. If water glasses were always in the cabinet closest to the refrigerator, duplicate that in the new space so your loved one knows where to go to find his or her stuff.
Start unpacking willy-nilly. The day will fly by so getting the essentials taken care of first is ideal.

DO: Set up a dim lamp or night light in key spaces of the house so your loved one can find their way to the bathroom or kitchen in the middle of the night.
Assume they won’t need this helpful aid if they never used one in their old house. Getting used to a new layout takes time and the small effort it takes to set up a lamp or nightlight can prevent falls and middle-of-the-night accidents.

DO: Include normalcy in the day. If your loved one has a particular routine he or she follows before bed — or any time during the day — ensure that things are set up to allow for this process.
Take routines for granted. They are what many of us thrive on. Providing the necessities for these routines can help immensely in the transition process.

DO: Take any pets into account. Many go through separation anxiety during a move. If your loved one has a pet, unpack his toys, bed, food and bowls as soon as possible and arrange them where they were set up in the old house, if possible.
Forget the pets! They are family, too.

DO: Be patient, flexible and understanding. Not everything will go as planned and, chances are, you and your loved one will grate on each other’s nerves. Take it in stride. This is a very difficult time for them and you need to be as supportive as possible.
Take over and get frustrated when things don’t go as planned. This will only add tension to an already stressful day.

DO: Understand that this may be extremely emotional for your loved one. Give them the time and space they need to grieve and help them through this transition with as much kindness and sincerity as possible.
Think this is easy for them. Any transition is hard, especially when moving away from the family home, giving up any independence, downsizing and starting fresh at an older age.

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