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Helping Seniors Move

When my parents moved from a 6,000 square foot home in Florida to a two bedroom
condo in Arizona, it was a nightmare. What I considered “junk” suddenly became a priceless memory. Although my parents were not hoarders, they had accumulated 20 years of “stuff”, various collections and enough photos to fill a museum.

From my own experience, the #1 tip I can give you if you are moving your aging parents to a new location is patience. Whether the move is voluntary or involuntary, there are many
emotions involved. Emotions are running high as they get very sentimental about leaving. Take the time to listen to their stories because behind many belongings are great memories. What may seem like a rickety table to you is a cherished rememberance of one of their vacations. Try to make packing as fun as possible – my Mom and I set up a “white elephant” pile that we later named the “what were you thinking pile” …we giggled every time we went past!

Here’s some other advice for helping seniors move:

  1. Take it room by room. Packing the whole house seemed like an insurmountable task. Therefore, we went through the items room by room. We separated the items into two categories – “keep and “giveaway”.  Fortunately, there was a Goodwill center near my parent’s home and it seemed like I made daily trips. However, I tried to spread the wealth around by contacting different charities for pickups so my parents could see their items would be going toward good use. Every box was clearly labeled with the name of the room and a description of the items inside. There were many things they didn’t want to get rid of, but I knew would never fit in their new home. I labeled them in boxes called “storage” and arranged for a storage space near their new home in Arizona. They will let go of these items when the time is right for them.
  2. Start a redecorating fund. Because my parents were downsizing, I knew that  many of heir large furniture pieces would not fit in their new home. I helped them sell it at consignment shops and on Craig’s List. I then took the proceeds and started a “redecorating fund” for their new home. This gave my Mom something fun to look forward to – a new TV whose back wasn’t as big as a boat!
  3. Get bids. Some moving companies who will try and take advantage of seniors. I not only got them three bids, but I read the fine print. A few items were broken in the move and I helped them file claims with the moving company.
  4. If possiblehelp them unpack. Helping parents transition from one home to another is easier of you can help them unpack on the other end. They need
    someone or something familiar in their new location. First of all, don’t let them lift heavy boxes despite their protests – hire some college kids who are young with strong backs to help them move the furniture around! I immediately put up some pictures to make their new place seem more like home.
  5. Familiarize them with their new community. When we weren’t unpacking, we went on jaunts through the neighborhood. I made sure they knew the locations for the grocery stores, post office, hospitals, doctor’s offices and restaurants. I introduced myself to their neighbors and gave them my phone number in case of emergency.

My best house warming present to my parents? My time and labor.  It was two weeks well spent!


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