Tips For Moving Senior Parents
Moving is no small task, and downsizing along with it can create a variety of challenges to address. Fortunately, there are many resources out there to help with the process.
Making a Move Manageable
Step by Step
Step 1. Ask your loved one to name the six possessions that are dearest — not most needed or most valuable. Jewelry and anything smaller doesn’t count. Perhaps it’s the blanket your mom wrapped around her newborn babies, or the bureau handhewn by your dad’s grandfather. The chosen items are keepers.
Step 2. You’ll need six sticky-note pads in different colors, a marker and at least six boxes per room and per closet. Label them Move, Sell, Toss, Donate, Up for Grabs and Pass Along.
Step 3. Start with the least-used rooms — that’s where most of us stash the stuff we like the least.
- Before going in, try to agree to get rid of anything that is broken, cracked or worn out, unless it is an heirloom.
Step 4. Put unwanted items in the Donate or Toss basket.
- Let your loved one choose what stays and what goes, knowing this may have to change.
- Put small and medium items — lamps, art, candlesticks — in the boxes. For large items, assign a different sticky-note color to each category and label appropriately.
- Books going to a library or used-book store get their own to-go boxes.
- Clothing going to a consignment shop should stay on hangers. Make a 3-inch slit in the bottom of a large garbage bag and pull the hanger hooks through to make a garment bag.
- Measure anything marked Move to make sure it will fit in the new space.
- If it’s a Pass Along, write the name of the recipient.
- If you’re undecided, put a question mark on a tag. Decide within a week.
Step 5. If your loved one has spent years building a collection, find ways to remember the pieces without taking them with you. Snapping a picture of three generations wearing Nana’s Nebraska Cornhuskers sweatshirts makes a funny new memory. A framed photo will allow her to see herself with her family and her sweatshirt collection.
Step 6. Establish basic ground rules to stay organized and on track.
- Anyone can take anything from the Up for Grabs box.
- Everything unclaimed goes to Donate or Toss.
- Toss the same day.
- Have donations picked up regularly.
- Pass Along items should be moved as soon as is convenient for your loved one.
Tips for Minimizing Stress
- Parting with beloved items can be easier when they’re given to a beloved family member.
- Note to recipient: Even if you don’t want the china, take the china. For your loved one, thinking that you will use and love the china is a comfort at a time when comfort is needed. Say thank you. Put it aside for six months. If no one in the family wants it, quietly consign or donate.
- Phrases like “You don’t need that! It’s junk!” are not helpful. When the to-go pile swells, offer a gentle “This-one-or-that-one?” choice.
- Sketch a to-scale map of the floor plan in your loved one’s new home. Cut to-scale rectangles, squares and circles to represent furniture. Your loved one can see what will and won’t fit without being told.
- Focus on the upside. “What are you going to do with the money you make from selling the patio furniture?”
- If your loved one is going to a community for the aging and he or she has a sturdy outdoor bench or birdbath, ask if it could be used on the grounds.
- Take hourly breaks.
- When your loved one has finished deciding what to jettison, urge a short rest. Use the time to bag donations.