There is probably nothing more demanding or downright nerve-wracking than having to pack up all your belongings to move to a brand new place. While the notion of beginning a new life in a different setting can be an exciting or even challenging experience, the entire process does represent a considerable amount of work, both emotionally and indeed physically. When anyone considers the extent of organizing, de-cluttering, cleaning, packing, lifting, and loading a lifetime’s accumulation of ‘stuff’, combined with the huge amount of energy it will take to get it all in, back out, and re-located from the confines of a moving truck over the course of a few days is enough to leave anyone exhausted before the process even starts.
When you contemplate all that planning, scheduling, and the enormous amount of work moving entails a bit further, it is easy to imagine just how overwhelming the stress and worry can be for seniors faced with such a daunting task. With the sheer magnitude of effort involved, combined with the sentimental or emotional concerns that play a part in anyone’s mind after spending so many years in a home or neighborhood one has grown very attached to, moving can be a very difficult process to deal with, especially for the elderly.
For all those thoughtful folks who may soon be faced with assisting their loved ones in managing the difficult and time-consuming ordeal of moving to a new home, there are a few helpful tips and ideas that will help relieve some of the pressure and anxiety involved with the moving process, and hopefully make the whole life-changing transition proceed in a much smoother and worry-free manner. If these simple guidelines are put on the top of your to-do list, your moving agenda should unfold with a lot less trouble for both you and the soon-to-be-relocated loved ones in your life.
Kindness and Consideration – This may not be on the top of your list, but it should be. When the process of sorting and packing their belongings begins, bear in mind that this is a difficult process, and that their capabilities are limited, and the ability to accomplish the tasks ahead can be overwhelming without a bit of patience and understanding. Be sure to offer plenty of encouragement and reassurance as you help them organize and pack.
Planning and Preparation – It is very important to allow enough time before the move so that seniors will not have to feel rushed through the process. Sifting through a lifetime of belongings and memorabilia is difficult and often emotionally upsetting. Give them plenty of time and space to recognize and understand that a significant change is taking place. It is also important to let them get involved with the planning and preparation. If access to the new home is possible, introduce them to the new environment, on their own time, and when they are ready. Listen to their concerns regarding how they would like the new place to look, and devise a plan to prepare the new space accordingly. Creating both a schedule and a strategy for the moving process will not only save time, but will provide them structured timetable to follow.
Organizing and Sorting – When it comes to wanting to keep things we no longer need or will never use again, seniors are just like everyone else. Use a bit of sensitivity when it comes time to suggest eliminating some of their possessions. Inquire whether they use the item often or if they would consider donating it to a favorite charity. If the item happens to be a favorite treasure or something they would like to hang on to but won’t fit into the new space, offer to keep it in the family by passing it on to a grandchild or another relative. They might find it easier to part with sentimental items or mementos if they are going to a familiar place.
Designing the New Space – Beyond just visiting the new residence, try and acquire a layout of the space to provide them an idea for what there is room for and what needs to stay behind or be donated. If they are moving from a two bedroom house to a one bedroom apartment, then by working together you can decide what items or furniture will actually fit and how much can be kept. Once again, offer to keep the items in the family that don’t work into the plan if possible. Another great idea is to take pictures of the primary living areas, to help them remember how things are laid out and where certain items will be re-arranged. It is important to try to relocate their belongings in a familiar manner so their new home will be as welcoming and as comfortable as the old one. Maintain as much detail as possible when arranging the furniture and even the family pictures to make the new place feel like home.
As previously mentioned, moving is a stressful time for anyone involved, but perhaps even more so for seniors. Always exercise an appropriate amount of patience, and don’t forget that as challenging as the entire process may be for you, they are probably going through just as much mental turmoil or anguish. Moving and relocating is never an easy task, and for an older person, it can certainly be more than they can cope with without a helping and compassionate hand. Most of all be considerate of their feelings and emotional outlook. Allow them time to say goodbye to their friends and familiar surroundings, and let them take whatever time they need to reminisce while absorbing the impact of their new ordeal. This is a very important part of the process, so be patient and listen to their stories. After all, every one of us will become a senior one day, and what goes around, will surely come around again.