Moving is an exciting yet challenging transition, as almost any person can tell you. Who hasn’t experienced a wide array of emotions before, during and after the process? Moving can be a daunting task, even under the best conditions, and making a move later in life can be even more stressful.
If you are helping an older adult transition from one living space to another, these tips can help make the experience more manageable.
Start early and slowly, with more time set aside than you think you’ll need
A month or two before the move, sit down and begin to sort through spaces such as basements or attics, which often go untouched for months or years at a time. Make lists of what will stay and what will go. Time spent together will mean a lot to that person during what is almost certainly a challenging transition. Be patient about preferences for how the move should work, and listen for any concerns that you can alleviate ahead of moving day.
Organization is key
Make a list of all the things that you need to get done. While packing, keep similar pieces together and label boxes by room or function in order to minimize the confusion and disarray that can happen when unpacking later on. For mementos like photo albums, label boxes by period of time and make sure they are sealed tightly to protect them from humidity and other potential damage.
Whether you are going through items or rooms, take care to sort through it all at a manageable pace. If that is not possible due to time constraints or other restrictions, prioritize must-have items and memorabilia; setting them aside will display respect and attentiveness. Break down big tasks – like a china cabinet deconstruction – into smaller ones, like wrapping the china (something an older adult may be able to help with). You can also leave some tasks to the pros, like disassembling and moving the cabinet.
Help them make their new environment a home
If you packed everything up nicely, it won’t take long to unpack some of the things that will help make a new place feel like home. Decide where important photos will hang, which shelves will store the coffee mugs and how to make the new bathroom layout work. If you are helping older adults who have mobility issues, make sure you help set up assistive features of the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom so they can feel safe and maintain some independence as they get acclimated to the new