Posted October 16, 2007

Make the Transition Easier

I read this article by Diane Schmidt on about.com and thought I would share it with you as it pertains to a lot of people who read this blog.

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 criticize.

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
possible.

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. (** I know of some great ones that can help – just ask me!**)

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.

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