Moving tips for seniors going to assisted living or memory care
No matter what your age, moving is stressful. But the process can be extremely emotional and physically challenging for seniors who have lived in the same place for years or decades. Packing up belongings accrued over a lifetime and going to an Independent Living, Assisted Living or Memory Care community brings opportunities for traveling down memory lane, but it also can create anxiety about being without those special possessions.
Needs change as people grow older, and precious memorabilia can become an obstacle. It is important to create a safe environment and adapt a new home to current needs. Taking this adventure is a great amount of work, but here are some tips on how to do it successfully.
Don’t try to tackle everything all at once.
For seniors, it can be stressful to deal with everything all at once. Instead, take it one room at a time. This process is time consuming, it will be easier if you set aside one day a week or one hour a day when downsizing or moving into an assisted living community.
Ask yes or no questions:
Open-ended questions about keeping small treasures or furniture adds more stress to your senior. Instead of asking, “Which pots and pans do you want to keep?”, phrase the question as: “I have your best frying pan and favorite chair, does that sound good?” Simple responses make your senior feel successful, and then you can move on to the next item.
Focus on most-used items instead of newer items:
You may prefer certain items over others because is it a newer model or has more features. But it’s more important to your senior loved one to have an item that he or she uses the most. Even if it’s old, if it brings them comfort and joy, then that is the item that should be kept. Perhaps you want to buy a new rocking chair, but your parent prefers his or her old chair. They may be sentimental about it. It may have been where he or she rocked you and the grandchildren. It is important, when moving, to establish a balance between the necessary items and the ones that hold a sentimental value to your parents.
Donating and selling items
When downsizing there will be many items that need to be parted with. This is when it is time to decide and give memorabilia to someone special in your life or maybe your favorite organization. This could be a church, charity or hospital. You can also organize an estate sale or garage sale and sell gently used items. After completing this task, if you find yourself with a considerable number of items to toss, there are several companies that can help.
If you have boxes of pictures from holidays, vacations and birthday parties, this might be the perfect opportunity to digitalize them. Surprise your senior with a digital frame featuring their pictures. You can also copy your pictures to external memory drives, or start a scrapbook, which could result in a new hobby.
How to Dispose of household chemicals and hazardous waste:
It’s normal to find paint, wood finish, sprays, oils and cleaning chemicals in the garage. Never pour hazardous materials down a sink or storm drain. It could cause groundwater contamination or flow into large bodies of water. To recycle, find out if your community is part of any program that picks up hazardous materials. There are also drop off centers where you can drop off hazardous chemicals. Make sure to check the times they are open. Best of all, you will know you helped the environment!
Pack a moving day bag
Put together a moving day bag with medications, toiletries, a change of clothes, important papers, snacks, disposable cups and plates, basic tools, cleaning supplies and any payment for movers you may need.
Get Professional Help
There are hundreds of companies that specialize in helping seniors move into a new place or downsize in their own homes.
A senior move manager is a professional that families hire to assist older adults with the emotional and physical aspects of relocation and/or aging at home. These professionals have a background in gerontology, social work, health care, nursing and psychology.
We Found the Right Place, Now What?
Whatever your senior’s decision is, try to make the best out of this process. An expert can handle everything, from sorting and packing to unpacking. If you opt to do it yourself, make it a family activity. On the upside, you’ll spend quality time with your senior while helping him or her settle in a new space.