Moving is always hard. It’s a lot of lifting, packing, lifting again, carrying, lifting, and then setting down. It’s strenuous work for anyone to do. But when you’ve gotta go, you gotta go. Those couches and beds won’t be moving by themselves. Someone has to do it, and it makes the most sense for the homeowner to do at least some of the work, no matter if they’re moving up a dozen flights to a new apartment, or down to a relaxing neighborhood. But what if they’re moving to a retirement community? Downsizing to a ground-level home to save those weakened knees? How does a senior move when they’re past their peak?
Even seniors may have to find new places to live. It can even be for their benefit. Moving into a Blue Zone area where life expectancy reaches higher than the rest of the world with no detriment to the quality of life is a perfect retirement plan, but the problem remains that they will have to move there. If you know a senior – including yourself – who just can’t get active like they used to, they may need help moving homes. It doesn’t have to be done all at once or in an emergency. Like any good move, there’s a simple to-do list to walk through to make sure everything gets done safely and satisfyingly.
1. Plan Ahead
Moving takes time – more than just the one day to pack things and the hours to unpack them. It’s a process that should be started at least a month ahead of time. Know what the new home will look like, how much space it will have, and start packing the things that will fit there.
It may be time to start letting go of the old collection. Consider what is worth keeping for the future. Get rid of clutter, throw it out if need be, and only bring what belongs in a new home for a new start.
3. Bring In the Family
If a senior is having a hard time getting started, their family can help. This is where you – or they – can help. Other people are better at noticing clutter and picking out what doesn’t belong in a given home. They’ll ask the hard questions and help make the hard decisions as to what stays and what goes.
4. Pack Carefully
If moving from a large home to a smaller one, pack each room one at a time and let them stay packed until the moving day. With a plan in place, every room will be transferred to a new room in the new home. Whether moving down in scale or up in scale, everything should have a proper place to go to once it gets to the next destination. Make sure to label boxes based on what’s inside and where they need to go so even a stranger from a moving company can tell what’s inside and treat it accordingly.
5. Start with Big Stuff
If something can be packed and moved all at once in one trip, it should be saved for last. Get all the furniture and major appliances squared away before the moving day so they can be easily transported. Packing and moving the heavy stuff first will leave the lighter objects as a relaxing break between hard work and can save a ton of time on breaks and resting in between.
6. Take a Picture
It can be hard to get the feeling of a new room right after moving everything in it. Even if the space is the same, in square footage or in shape, putting old things in a new place will feel off. Before moving, take pictures of the rooms as they were so they can be re-assembled as closely as possible with little effort. A picture from the doorway, or from connecting hallways works best. And it can be shared so that everyone involved will know what goes where and how it should be set up.
7. Take a Break
Moving is stressful, and seniors will be adversely affected by it more than they may show. Especially if a move isn’t exactly willing, or their idea. Attachments to a house or home, especially one they’ve lived in for a long time, will be strong. Just moving away will come with a whole host of effects, depression could set in, anxiety could lead to impulsive decisions. It’s important to help them through that aspect as well. They’re moving more than just their things, they’re moving their life.
8. Make Emergency Preparations
Not all moves go off as planned. There could be delays from hours to days, things could get lost or broken and need replacing. In the meantime, a senior should be prepared to rough it a little with a suitcase or bag of essentials. The most important items should be on hand and mobile, especially if the trip to their new place takes more than a day to arrive. Some clothes, toiletries, convenience items – and more importantly, medicine. That should stay as accessible as possible until it can be put where it belongs in the new home.
9. Reach Out
Moving is hard work, and there are plenty of professional companies that can handle all the heavy lifting, loading, unloading, and placement from one home to another. Seniors also have access to resources gathered by organizations that exist to help them, specifically, such as the AARP and the National Association of Senior Move Managers. If a move looks like it might be particularly difficult, even for the younger folks involved, contact one of these groups can make things easier.
10. Engage with the Movers
Seniors are less likely to trust strangers with their precious items during a move, but professional movers stay in business by being able to do more than just lift and carry stuff. They listen to the concerns of their customers and coordinate to work on their standards. They may even have discounts for seniors and additional assistive programs, like moving or installing ramps and stair-rails in a new house to save on the cost of finding contractors or additional work crews.