How to Make “The Move” Less Painful

Moving to a new home can be exciting, but most Americans agree that it’s stressful too. There are all kinds of tasks to take on, such as calling movers, contacting utilities and the US Postal Service, letting friends and family know, and of course arranging your new home. For a new college graduate, it may be a matter of getting a few boxes, a truck, and a helping hand from friends. For your mom and dad who have lived in the same home for 20 or 30 years, there’s more effort and emotional turmoil involved. You know they’d be better off at a retirement community, and so do they. How can you help them make the transition to a new, healthier lifestyle?

  •  Focus on the positive. Older adults may feel like they’re sacrificing a lifetime of memories to move to a retirement community. It’s not just a move — it’s a lifestyle change. You can help them stay focused on the positive — the many new friends they’ll make, the amenities they can enjoy, the classes they can take, the groups they can join, and an end to their concerns about day-to-day home upkeep. Reassure them that if something happens, like a fall, help will be moments away.
  •  Separate the treasures from the clutter. Many Americans have too much stuff, and clutter can be a source of stress. Help your parents take a look at the items they need and use and the items they value. Anything else is likely to be clutter that’s weighing them down. Here are 10 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home. One or more of these ways may work for your parents.
  • Don’t trash — donate. Your parents may have dozens of kitchen utensils and gadgets that they never use but hate to waste by throwing out. Many organizations and local thrift stores accept various items, from kitchen goods and clothing to sporting equipment and even gently used furniture.
  • Break the move down into small tasks. The best approach to any big job is to break it down into small, manageable tasks. For example, deal with the easy stuff first — old medications that should be tossed, magazines and newspapers, worn and ill-fitting clothing, and extra and duplicate items that won’t be needed. Focus on how good it feels to get rid of clutter and to organize the rest.
  • Get friends and family involved. Throw a moving party and make getting ready for the move a celebration of life, past and future. If no one is available to pitch in, consider hiring a professional who specializes in working with older adults. You may want to review your options at the National Association of Senior Move Managers® You can also ask the retirement community’s marketing department if move-in coordination help is available.

The process of moving is challenging and draining, especially for older adults. That’s why it’s important to stay focused on the end rewards — the opportunities that come with living in a community where services and care are available, and every day offers the possibility of friendship and personal growth. Your parents may not agree now, but later don’t be surprised if they tell you they wished they had moved sooner!