Helping a Senior Loved One Move – Part I

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Lisa, an only child, had become concerned about her mom living alone in the home she grew up in. It was over 50 years old and was starting to require quite a bit of maintenance. Recently a supply line to an upstairs toilet had burst, causing extensive water damage on the first and second floors and forcing her mom to deal with claims adjusters, contractors, and having her house become a construction zone for weeks.

On top of that, her mom had been having dizzy spells and was becoming unsteady on her feet, an especially dangerous situation for someone living in a two-story home with a basement laundry room. Lisa knew it would be much safer for her mother to be in a newer single story condo or apartment where she wouldn’t have to worry about home maintenance or navigating two sets of stairs on a daily basis, but she also knew how much her mother loved her home and all of the personal items she had collected throughout her lifetime.

Expressing her concern for her mother’s well-being and discussing a possible move without upsetting her was almost more daunting than the thought of finding a new place and getting the family home ready to sell.

Helping a senior loved one prepare for a move has both an emotional and physical aspect, and it’s important not to neglect either part. In this article, we discuss setting the groundwork for an eventual move and preparing for the move.

Planning Before the Move Is Necessary

If possible, start talking to your loved one about the possibility of relocating long before the move is needed. Talk about where they might like to live, whether it be in the same area, closer to kids or other relatives, or a different climate. Having this conversation ahead of time ensures your loved one can be part of the decision-making process instead of potentially feeling like they are being told what to do.

Help them start thinking about what might need to be done to the house for it to be ready to sell. Are there items that might hold up an inspection if they aren’t repaired, or can a few inexpensive updates increase the home’s appeal? Have a realtor come see the home and do an assessment as to the current market price and demand for similar homes in the area.

Preparing for the Move

Create a calendar and make it available to your loved one so they know what’s going on and how the move is progressing. Having actual dates for each part of the process can help them prepare for the upcoming events and solidify the fact that the move is actually occurring.

Some items can be easily replaced if they become lost during the move, while others can’t. Before the move occurs, encourage your loved one to organize their important information such as life insurance policies, financial information and estate planning documents, and put them in a safe place, like a lockbox. You can also offer to keep them at your home during the move if they are comfortable with it.

Medical information should also be kept readily available in case a physician needs to be contacted. And prescriptions should be filled and kept with you or your loved one so they are readily accessible when needed, instead of packed into a box that looks like all the other ones.

Organizing a lifetime worth of belongings and deciding what should or shouldn’t move to the new place is often overwhelming. Make sure the senior is still taking care of themselves during this process by continuing to eat, rest, and take medications. Also, be there to offer emotional support in case they get upset, start having second thoughts about the move, or just want to share some memories. If you decide to use a senior move management company who is insured and bonded, their employees can be left alone to sort and pack, which allows your loved one to go out for doctor’s appointments or just to get away from the situation for a little bit.

Starting the conversation and getting ready for the move earlier rather than later will give both you and your loved one time to process the idea of them moving and to prepare so the eventual move doesn’t feel forced or rushed.

In our next post, we’ll talk about helping your loved one find a new place that fits their needs and the actual sale of the house. a long-distance move, and settling into their new place.