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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

En español | Moving is usually a stressful and emotional experience, regardless of age or situation. Moving in the later stage of life, however, can be very difficult, especially if independence is being sacrificed and the family home is being left behind.

See also: 10 tips for a manageable move.

Caregivers can help make this transition much more pleasant for their loved one — or they can make it much, much harder. Learning to walk the line between keeping momentum and taking over is critical. Here is a list of what TO do and what NOT to do when helping your loved one move.

Decisions About the Move

DO: Discuss with your parent or loved one, well in advance, what type of housing he or she feels is needed, if possible.
Make decisions about their care without their input. And don’t wait until the last minute to discuss your loved one’s housing options. Regardless of what type of home or care facility your loved one is moving to, it’s very important that they have a say.

DO: Bring your parent or loved one around to visit potential residences, if they are able.
Assume it will be too much trouble to bring them along. At the least, take pictures to show them.

DO: Get a detailed list of services each potential new residence offers, if applicable.
Assume that all care facilities offer the same services.

DO: Look for residences that offer the same conveniences as your loved one is accustomed to, such as a dishwasher, washer and dryer.
Figure a smaller space translates to fewer needs. To ensure an easy transition, it’s important that your loved one has as many comforts as possible.

DO: Consider hiring a senior move manager. This is a growing field and one that can prove extremely helpful to you and your loved one. Visit the National Association of Senior Move Manager’s website to learn more.
Think you can handle it from afar or that the process of moving a loved one will be a cinch. If it gets to be too much, ask for help.

DO: Research and hire reputable movers, ideally with experience moving seniors. Ask your loved one’s friends who have moved recently for recommendations. And many facilities catering to older adults may be able to offer suggestions as well.
Sacrifice quality over cost. We’ve all heard our fair share of moving day horror stories and adding another tale to the library isn’t necessary. Go with the most reputable and recommended within your price range.

Preparation for the Move: Downsizing

DO: Begin downsizing well in advance of the move.
Wait until a week before the move to start weeding out unused items.

DO: Include your parent or loved one in the downsizing process. This is their stuff, after all.
Decide what stays and what goes. Let your parent or loved one make those decisions, even if it means the process takes a bit longer.

DO: Let your parent or loved one come to their own decisions about what to keep, what to donate and what to toss.
Steamroll the process and insist on making decisions for them.

DO: Start the downsizing process in rooms used the least. This will help prevent overwhelming the rest of the house with the excess clutter and potential mess.
Start a project you can’t easily finish or clean up at the end of the day. The moving process can be emotional and the last thing your parent or loved one needs is to be overwhelmed in their own home with a bunch of unfinished projects.

DO: Start with the biggest items in the room first and move down in size from there. This will help encourage progress and will get larger items out of the way, making room for sorting, cleaning, packing and organizing.
Sort knick-knacks and small décor first. This will make the entire process seem like an insurmountable task.

DO: Plan the division of assets in advance if your parent or loved one isn’t taking everything with them to their next residence.
Wait until the move to decide which sibling gets what from your parents. This will only cause arguments. Best to have these decisions made well in advance.

Next Page: How to map out the new space. »

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