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How to Move Elderly Family Members

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Moving is a difficult life transition for most of us, but it can be even more jarring to the elderly. If you need to move an elderly family member, be sure to consider all of their needs and how difficult this transition may be. This can be an emotional time for both you and your relative. Be sure to have a plan and keep the following guidelines in mind during this late life transition.

First, consider just how much aide your elderly relative is going to need for a move--80 years on this Earth does not manifest the same way for every person. Some 80 year-olds are essentially the same people they were 30 years earlier. Others are bedridden and in the throes of dementia to the point where they can't move or make their own decisions, while others may be somewhere in between those two extremes. 

Seniors are probably not choosing to move, but have to due to a number of reasons. Moving often means losing some independence for most elderly people.
  • They're moving in with their children/younger family members
  • They're moving to a senior community
  • They're moving to an assisted living facility
  • They're moving to a hospice centre
  • They already live with younger family and are moving with them

Start by talking about it early

Preparation is helpful for anyone who is moving, but it is especially important with the elderly. Older people tend to do things more slowly and do not adjust well to surprises or breaks in their routine. You may even need to take some time to convince the elderly relative to move. This can be difficult but it will be even more difficult to move if the person is resistant during the whole process. Here are some ways handle the move conversation with your elderly loved one: 
  • Be compassionate. They are giving up some of their freedom and are possibly moving out of the house where they spent most of their adult life.
  • Don't be condescending, especially with elderly parents. You both can remember the time when they had to take care of you, so don't be disrespectful if you have to take care of them.
  • Remind why the move will be a positive experience. Explain how things will be easier for them in the new home.
  • If they are moving in with you, highlight the positives of spending extra time with your family.
  • Talk about Senior communities with your loved one. These communities are also easier sells since a lot of autonomy is maintained.
  • If all else fails, tell them that they need to do it for you. Their sense of duty to family may win out.
Once you get your elderly relative on board with the move, you need to help him prepare. 

Look for locations near the new home that the elderly will need to know about

  • Senior centres
  • Doctors' offices
  • Churches
  • Parks
  • Restaurants
  • Pharmacies
  • Grocery stores
Make sure all of these places fit your senior relative's needs.

Help them decide what to pack and what to give away

  • Let them do this slowly, it can be physically and emotionally difficult.
  • A few sentimental items should be moved.
  • You will need to sell or give away a lot of things, since your relative is likely moving somewhere with less space.
  • Help them organize their things. Go through all their clothes and medications and sort into categories. Make it as simple for them as possible.
  • Take your time. Your elderly relative may need a break from the sorting and emotionally charged decisions. This is why it is good to start the process early.
  • If there is one room where you should try to move everything, it is the bedroom. This may be the last area that is totally theirs in their new home and it should be filled with familiar items to ease the transition of the move.

Moving day

  • Hired movers or younger family members will have to do the physical packing and moving for the elderly. Do not forget this detail if everyone is moving and the elderly person is just one of many.
  • Be sure you hire a moving company that is sensitive to the needs of the elderly. You should introduce the movers to your older relative to make her feel at ease about leaving her prized possessions to their care.
  • Keep all medications and any other medical necessities with you during the move. You never know when your relative may need them. Oxygen tanks also cannot be moved by moving companies.
  • Help your elderly relative unpack once you arrive at the new home . Remember to follow their directions the best you can. It is more likely that she will give precise instructions to you than to a stranger, so you should probably unpack most of her things instead of a hired mover.

If you can't be there during unpacking, then it is a good idea to hire a senior moving manager, to help ease the transition. Ask about what senior services are available when contacting your moving company.

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on September 18, 2014 - Moving Expert
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