Whether you're helping your parents move to a retirement
home or with you to yours, take extra care and try to
consider the following tips when assisting with their move:
1. Be kind. This may seem like a given. However,
when helping to sort and pack their things, keep in mind
that their eyesight and an inability to do everything they
used to do can result in poor housekeeping habits. Instead
of commenting, offer to clean as you pack and try not to
2. Help sort. Like all of us, seniors tend to keep
things they don't necessarily need or will ever use. Be
gentle when suggesting to get rid of possessions. Ask them
if they use the item and if they would mind if you donate
it. If it's a treasure or something they'd like to keep but
the new space can't accommodate it, suggest keeping it in
the family by giving it to a grandchild or another sibling.
It's often easier to give away items if they're are going to
a good home.
3. Take pictures of the inside of their home. As
close as possible, try to place objects in a similar way so
that their new home will feel very much like the old one. Be
as detailed as you can from arranging the bedroom furniture
to placing the family pictures on the bureau. This will help
make the new place feel like home.
4. Obtain a room layout of their new place. Find
out before you move, how much space the new place has. If
you're parents are moving from a three bedroom house to a
one bedroom condo, then together you'll need to decide what
will fit and how much can be kept. Again, offer to keep the
pieces they can't move or try to keep them in the family if
5. Start small. Take a day to spend with your
parents to talk about the move and what to expect. Give them
small tasks to do such as going through a desk drawer or a
box from the attic. Ask them to spend only 15 to 20 minutes
a day on one task. Let them decide what they'd like to do
and what they might find hard to do. Taking small steps will
help your parents get used to the idea of moving.
6. Pick a room that has less sentimental attachment.
Have your parents start sorting through the bathroom or
kitchen drawers; a place in the house that doesn't hold the
same emotional attachment as the bedroom or living room or a
photo box kept in the attic.
7. Plan the move. Allow enough time that your
parents don't feel rushed. Sorting through years of stuff is
difficult and sometimes emotionally painful. Give them time
to absorb the change.
8. Hire outside help. Sometimes it's easier for
your parents to work with an outside party than with their
children. There are many companies who specialize in moving
seniors, offering comfort both to your parents and the rest
of the family.
9. Be patient. Allow your parents time to say
goodbye. If they take longer to clean out the desk drawer
because of a stack of pictures they found, let them take the
time to remember. This is a very important part of the
process. Be patient. Listen to their stories.
10. Get them involved. If you have access to the
new home, take your parents there, introduce them to the new
space. Do this on their own time, when they're ready. Let
them tell you how they'd like it to look and make a plan to
prepare the space accordingly.