Grown children are the first line of defense for aging parents, especially as seniors become more forgetful or their ability to complete daily tasks declines. If you are the primary caretaker for an elderly loved one, and you’re still caring for children of your own, you’ve unknowingly become one of the thousands known as the “Sandwich Generation” — the unrecognized, silent support system of our aging populace.
For many seniors and caretakers, moving to an assisted living facility is a great, although expensive, solution. If it’s time for your family to consider relocating your elderly parents to a senior home, read on for some tips about how to handle the unique challenges of senior moves.
When it comes to moving elderly parents into an assisted living facility, it’s a decision that isn’t taken lightly by most families, especially if you have been caring for your loved one. Moving Mom or Dad from the three-bedroom home they’ve lived in for 40 years to a one-bedroom apartment is a daunting task. The relocation process will be even more difficult if your loved one suffers from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other geriatric conditions. But, by taking this transition one step at a time you will ensure that the moving process is much easier on your loved one.
If it’s time for your family to consider a new home for Mom or Dad, here are some moving and assisted living tips you’ll find helpful.
1. Hire senior move management services.
Senior move managers will help your family through the entire move process, especially the emotional aspects, like dealing with difficult downsizing decisions. For instance, Mom or Dad won’t be able to take all of their furniture — a senior move manager will help them figure out what will fit in their new home, so you don’t pay for movers to relocate belongings that won’t make it into the apartment. They’ll sort through other belongings to help parents decide what to keep, sell, or give away.
Move managers will also manage the move itself, hold yard sales, help with getting settled in the new residence, and other moving-related tasks that often get overlooked. The National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) is a great resource to learn more about these professionals.
2. Find a reputable mover.
Do your investigative homework and research moving companies. It’s best to look for a mover that has experience moving seniors. If you don’t know where to start, NASMM has a list of approved moving companies that they consider “Industry Partners.” Most senior move managers have established relationships with local movers as well, which will make finding a reputable mover much easier. Once you’ve found a mover, check online reviews, contact the Better Business Bureau, ask for referrals, and make sure that the mover comes to the home to give an in-person estimate.
3. Start planning early.
Weeks before the move, you should hold an initial consult with the move manager and begin packing and sorting through belongings. Make separate piles for items your loved one wants to keep, sell or give away. If he feels up to it, enlist his help with this task. That way, you’ll both have control over the situation.
A popular way to keep track of items being donated, kept, or trashed is to purchase colored dots (you can find them at any dollar store or office supply shop) and mark donations with red dots, things to keep with green dots, and trash items with yellow dots. It’s an easy visual reminder of what needs to go where!
4. Stay organized.
Moving day should be low key. Keep a to-do list, and make a timeline for the day in order to stay organized. Include your loved one’s normal schedule in the timeline — don’t disrupt their daily routine, merely coordinate with it. For instance, if your parent has a doctor’s or physical therapy appointment in the morning, make sure another family member is available to get them there. Then, consider taking her out to breakfast or lunch while the movers work and you supervise the move out/move in process. By not disrupting your loved one’s routine, you will help her feel in control. In fact, for patients suffering from diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, retaining a sense of normalcy during this transition is key.
5. Make the new space feel like home.
Try to have the house as close to unpacked as possible when your loved one arrives. This means making sure that the bedroom and bathroom are fully set up — have his favorite quilt and chair on display, the TV mounted and connected, and the pantry packed with snacks. Arrange furniture the same way it was in the previous home, and hang pictures in similar spots, too. All of these efforts will help make your loved one feel at home, faster.
Moving can be overwhelming, especially if the move is part of a lifestyle transition. As caregivers, you look out for physical well-being of your loved one, but you’re a companion, too. Remain attentive in the weeks leading up to and following the move. Look for any signs of physical or emotional distress or any onset of depression, as these could be signs of Relocation Stress Syndrome.
The main takeaway for caregivers guiding seniors through moves is to surround the senior with familiarity and support. These simple steps will help eliminate the major stresses of moving and will speed up your loved ones’ adjustment. Doing so will make this transition less overwhelming and will help your loved ones begin an enjoyable new chapter of their life.
Tara Chila, blogger for Transit Systems, Inc., writes mostly about moving, business, house & home, kids, and parenting. Transit Systems specializes in a variety of long distance moving and shipping services including furniture shipping. Tara enjoys spending time with her husband and two amazing little boys. She balances life as a stay at home mom and a part time employee. So, amidst going to playgrounds, play dates or running her boys to kindergarten, she works on expanding Transit Systems’ social network and compiling, placing, and marketing TSI’s raving customer reviews!
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