Helping a senior move can be a complex process

Sunday, October 14, 2012
Mary Ann Steelman (Submitted photo)

Helping someone move -- whether it's your child going to college or a friend moving to a new home -- can be a stressful process.

Helping an elderly loved one move from their home is an especially overwhelming process for both the caregiver and the senior. The move is an emotional time as seniors may see this new chapter in their life as one filled with loss and grief.

There becomes a world of questions that arise, including what to bring and leave behind, and how to facilitate the move. This can become so overwhelming that the seniors are unable to make any decisions and are, in a sense, immobile.

Typically with enough time, planning and support, caregivers can help ease the transition for the senior.

To help with the process, the National Association of Senior Move Managers can handle the details of planning and implementing a move. They help develop an overall move plan. They can assist in helping seniors organize items and decide what to take and not to take with them.

The move managers help arrange for the disposal of unwanted items through auctions, estate sales or donations. They also help with arranging for storage of items, overseeing professional packing, setting up the new home, and preparing the old home to be sold.

Additionally, some move managers help elderly individuals who are staying in their own homes with downsizing or organizing to make their home safer and more practical.

When helping a senior move, it is easy to get frustrated at their resistance or inability to make decisions.

Sorting through a lifetime of items and memories may be too much for the senior to do at once. It can help if the caregiver stays sensitive to the situation and realizes that items that may seem unimportant may have significant emotional value to the elderly person.

When a loved one is feeling a loss of control, the caregiver could help them get involved in the process. They could let the senior make decisions about the moving process and their new living situation.

If a favorite recliner and TV are important to the senior, they could help decide how those items are situated in their new home. Helping minimize the senior's stress by limiting the amount of change that will occur can greatly help in the moving process.

Providing emotional support and being there for the senior during the moving process, whether you have decided to use a senior mover or not, are very important for the senior. As a caregiver, you can reassure the senior that they are making the best decision and remind them of the good things that will come out of the move.

Once your loved one has moved, they may still require your support as they become comfortable in their new home. Studies show it can take a senior up to 90 days to become truly acclimated to a new home. Your support and time can help ease the transition as your elderly loved one becomes adjusted to their new surroundings.

-- Mary Ann Steelman is the administrator at Celebration Way, Assisted Living by Americare, located at 895 Union St. in Shelbyville. For more information call 685-6900.

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