Empty nesters

Moving a lifetime of belongings from one house to another, as is often the case for seniors, can be a particularly stressful experience.

Whether they are moving because of a death of a partner, the house has gotten too big and they are struggling cope or if they are moving to a retirement home, chances are they will need to downsize. If they have lived in the house for a long time and have many years of memories there, getting rid of belongings they’ve gathered over a lifetime can be very daunting.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of top tips to help give your elderly relative a stress free moving experience.

1. Arrange the move well in advance

Circumstance may mean that you need to move your relative quickly. However, if you have the time, plan the move for a few months’ time. Sorting through years of stuff is difficult, tiring and sometimes emotionally painful. Elderly people also take time to adjust to change and the last thing you want is for them to feel rushed or forced into moving before they are ready

2. Divide up the tasks into small chunks

It’s impossible to expect an elderly person to pack up their whole house in one weekend. Start easy by getting them to do a small area of packing. Work through one area and one cupboard at a time so as not to overwhelm them with the enormity of the task. To make it easier still, get them to begin in a room that has the least sentimental attachment like the guest bedroom or bathroom. Keep packing to a few hours at a time.

3. Get them involved

Lives are busy and there is a good chance you will want to get in there and start sorting out your elderly relative’s belongings as quickly as possible. They will likely need a lot of help with packing but be careful not to take over. You may know that they need to get rid of stuff but be mindful to involve them in the decision making process of what stays and goes.

If your elderly relative is physically unable to do the packing, they can still assist. Have them sit in a comfortable spot near where you are working so that they can easily talk and guide you as you are sorting.

When you arrive at the new place, don’t just start unpacking their things and put them where you think they should go. Ask your relative how they would like the house set out and where they prefer things to go.

4. Take photos

Many elderly people don’t adjust to change as well as they used to. One way to ease the anxiety surrounding the move is to set up their new home as similar as possible to their old one. Using photos of their old home you can place objects in very similar ways and in the correct rooms. Be as detailed as you can from arranging the bedroom furniture to placing the family pictures on the wall.

5. Be patient

Try to maintain calm and patience when helping your elderly relative move homes. If they seem to be taking a long time packing an area and keep getting stuck flicking through old photographs, leave them be. This is an important part of the moving process.

Understand that their brain may not be as sharp as it once was, and their response time may be slower than what you would like. Getting impatient with them won’t get anything accomplished.

At all times be kind and listen to their stories. Put yourself in their shoes, appreciate their history, and remember, you are there to provide physical and emotional support.

6. Hire removalists

Professional removalists such as Grace can take care of the move from start to finish, including arranging packing and unpacking. They have all the right equipment to move large items easily and therefore reducing the risks of breakages or damage. It also means your relatives won’t feel obliged to help or won’t feel guilty watching you carry boxes back and forth to a truck.

Grace can help you arrange a moving schedule that suits your elderly relative and ensures an easy transition to their new home.