Making the decision to move your elderly parents can be difficult. The realization that a loved one is reaching the age where it’s no longer applicable for them to live on their own unassisted make the choice to move them a little easier – but then you’re inevitably faced with the decisions of which things to toss, which things to store, and which things to take with them.
It’s a very delicate balancing act, but it’s easily doable when you take a moment to assess what lies in front of you, remembering to be sensitive and open to keeping and protecting things of inherent familial value.
Depending on where your loved one is on their life’s journey may mean they’re able to live with you in a granny-suite style dwelling, which makes things easier to transition, taking into account, acclimatization, storage and the downsizing process.
First and foremost, have this discussion early. Giving yourself and your loved ones the right amount of time to adjust to this monumental life change is the most important aspect of a move like this. Be accepting of help, and do your best to make the experience as stress-free as possible. It’s not always easy, but at the very least, it can be rewarding.
Downsizing the possessions of your aging parents into an appropriate amount of things to possibly put in storage is a huge task. Getting rid of a lifetime of cherished possessions will be difficult for everyone in the family – things like old photos, possibly family heirlooms, pieces that hold great memories, etc. – all make for an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved. If at all possible, give yourself as much time as possible to begin the downsizing process.
Start small. Begin by eliminating all of the things they inexcusably won’t need, or miss. Things like excess clothing, knick-knack’s, kitchen amenities, appliances, underused dressers and bedroom suites, maybe an old couch. These bulky items make measuring the scope of their remaining possessions a little easier, and help to open up the space to a bit of a sigh of relief once they’re gone. These can also always be distributed amongst family members in need –maybe a student heading off to school, or a young family starting off in their first home would appreciate that couch, or dresser suite.
Keep things that are of immediate family value. Family photo books, portraits, a few significant pieces of clothing, hand-stitched bedding, and the odd piece of furniture that holds a special place in the hearts of your family. Take the best and most precious. These things can’t be replaced.
You may wish to keep the majority of their possessions and put them in an off-site storage facility. This option is a great way to eliminate much of the unpleasantries of moving an aging family member, as you know your family can make adjustments to their new address, or pick from the stored goods in the months and years to come to tailor a space that reminds them, or you, a little more of home.
Make sure your storage facility is heated and protected from flooding as much as you can. Ensure this is attainable through investing the time to lift the materials off the ground with palettes, packing them in water and moisture proof tote bins or bags, and stack them safely to ensure they don’t fall over and cause damage to the surrounding objects.
Retirement Home Vs Granny Suite Options
Depending on where your loved one is in their life’s journey may dictate where they inevitably move. In a situation where they need constant 24-hour care, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home may be your ideal choice. Be sure to check with the staff of the facility to ensure you’re meeting any and all moving requirements; i.e., sterilization for germs and bacteria upon entry to the facility, space limitations, etc. Such facilities will likely have a policy for incoming residents.
Another option may be a home with a granny-suite. Provided this is an applicable choice for your family, this alleviates much of the concern with having to eliminate a plethora of possessions in a specific time period. A good sized granny suite may be comparable to the size of an apartment or single family home, making the transition easier for all. Much of the same moving practices will remain in this case, like providing ample space for storage and accessibility for people with disabilities.
Scheduling with Family
Get all of your siblings and a few family members to help you sort and pack up the old address ahead of hiring movers to come for the bulk of moving day. This gives you time to look through old photos albums and mementos when you’re supposed to be packing. This will make for a thoroughly enjoyable, if not unproductive first day.
Ask one family member to take some moving day measurements of the new address, so you can plan your strategy of attack. This can even include creating a mental snapshot of the old dwelling to recreate something similar layout wise in the new home they’re moving into. This can make for an easy way to tackle moving, as well as an easier transition for your parent.
If other family members can’t be there in person, keep them up to date with regular email updates telling them where you sit with packing and moving everything to a new address. They can help with transferring cable, telephone, internet or delivery services to a new address remotely, so take them up on their help.
It’s Not All About You
It’s crucial that we understand this move isn’t always a welcome one. It’s not uncommon for an adult to want to immediately reject the help of their children. It’s part and parcel to the aging process when you start noticing that your health and everyday schedule is more and more dependent on others. This is completely normal, and totally understandable.
Ask a trusted friend, doctor, or minister to intervene to get at the underlying issues stopping your parent from accepting your help.
If you parent needs an extra day or two, consider scheduling a backup day with your movers, or other family members to help with packing and movers. This isn’t a situation that should be rushed by any means. Make sure they’re comfortable with where they’re going first. This can be done by paying a visit to the new address, or involving them in the construction or design process of their new backyard granny suite at your home.
Do what you can to make the move a successful and enjoyable experience for your loved ones. The satisfaction you’ll get from their happiness will kick start the moving process with positivity and confidence.