It could be your 80 year old aunt or a dear friend living next door to you, but when an elderly person you care about needs to move, you need to help. They'll likely have special needs that can only be tended to by someone they know well and someone who cares enough about them to apply a special kind of patience to the situation. While helping them move won't be an easy task, with you by their side, it can be a much more bearable and productive relocation effort.
1. Meet With Your Elderly Friend Or Relative To Carefully Plan The Move
There may be a lot of confusion and stress for your friend and meeting with you should help them feel a little more in control during the move. Sit down and discuss dates, goals, what items are unwanted and other aspects of planning a smooth move. Have a list of specific questions you want to ask that will help clarify every last detail:
- Are there things they don't want to keep?
- Are they interested in storing any items?
- Is the new home completely ready for occupancy?
- Are there valuable antiques, collectibles and other breakable items and how should they be marked as such?
- Has the moving company been well researched?
- Is the moving date set?
- Are other services being sought from the movers, such as packing and unpacking?
2. Talk With The Moving Company Yourself
To make sure everything is clear, it might be a good idea to speak with the moving company on your own. Unless you're sure your elderly friend has every detail under control, check with the company about the moving date, size of the moving truck and what kind of help the company's employees will be offering. Give the person you speak with your own phone number, just in case there are any last minute changes or questions.
3. Prep The House For Moving In The Days Prior To The Actual Move
Hopefully, you have the time needed to help get the house together for moving. You might need supplies or to arrange for a few people in the neighborhood to come over and help pack. If the moving company will be handling the packing, be sure to get everything ready for them and hand-carry essentials and valuables you don't want packed in the back of a truck.
4. Consider A Storage Facility For An Abundance Of Non-Essential, Accumulated Items
People who are older often have a great deal of personal items, many of which may no longer be needed. This is a great time to sift through closets and drawers, getting rid of unnecessary and redundant things that only add to the hassle of moving. If your friend is somewhat obsessive about holding on, they could be one of the millions of Americans with real hoarding issues. Although you probably don't want to address that now, you could recommend that such items be kept in storage for the time being. Later on, they could be retrieved or if they're not actually missed, they might be sold or otherwise disposed of.
5. Arrange To Take The Elderly Person Out To Lunch Or Otherwise Be Out Of The Home On Moving Day
Because you have a moving company on the job, it's probably a good idea to be out of the home when the big day arrives. You could try a new place for lunch in the new neighborhood or stop by an old favorite eatery to make sure everyone knows about the move. Either way, for safety and logistical purposes, letting the movers do their job without bodies in the way is usually a good idea, but especially for older, more frail types.
6. Have The Moving Company Set Up One Room First
If it can be done, setting up one room completely, such as with all the furniture that belongs in that room, will give your elderly friend a place to keep busy while the rest of the move is ongoing. In that one room, they can begin to arrange essential items and start to feel at home. Starting in the kitchen, for example, where essential meal production needs to be arranged, the two of you can situate all the food, plates, microwave, etc. needed. If a few extra groceries are missing due to the move, sit down and make a list. Keeping busy away from the main moving areas is safer and lets the movers complete the task at hand with fewer distractions.
7. Take Care Of Storage
Often, it's not until someone moves until they realize just how much "stuff" they have. If the two of you have coordinated some items for storage, look around the new place and decide together what else should be stored away, rather than unpacked with no particular place of logical belonging. You might have extra lamps, if the new place has a lot of overhead lighting or a few odds and ends just won't fit where you thought they would. Now is a good time to gather excess items and place them in storage, as opposed to leaving your friend with an overwhelming amount of things they'll have difficulty placing.
8. Try To Break Unpacking Up Over A Few Days
It's a major undertaking to unpack all those boxes, especially in consideration of how stressful a move can be. If your schedule allows for it, come back again each day for a while, until the new place is neatly arranged.
9. Make Sure Your Friend Has A Working Phone And Emergency Numbers Are Handy
If phone service was switched from the previous home, make sure the new one is working. Check, too, that cell phone coverage hasn't changed for the new area and see that your elderly friend has quick and easy access to important numbers, such as the new landlord, relatives, doctors and local emergency services.
10. Don't Forget To Check Back Often
Moving can be a difficult adjustment at any age, but it may be especially hard on your elderly friend who might have lived at their previous home for a long time. Moving is also an unsettling experience which can cause disorientation or even sadness, so call and visit your friend in their new home as often as you can, especially in the beginning, until the dust has settled and there's a more comfortable feeling of home for them.