The Bekins Blog

Tips for Moving Elderly Parents

March 11, 2015 | Household Moves, Moving Guides & Tips

As your parents grow older, you may see them begin to struggle living day-to-day. Perhaps they have begun to miss bill payments or have fallen and broken a hip. At some point, you will need to move them into a safer living environment. Moving elderly parents out of their home is usually a task that falls on the adult children—and it can be tough to manage.

The first question is where will they live? Initially you may consider your home. However, this decision is a major life choice and deserves some serious discussion between you, your parent or parents, and the rest of your family. Here are some simple things you can do to make the moving process easier:

6 Moving Tips for Adult Children Helping Elderly Parents

1. First Thing’s First: Be Understanding.

There’s a good chance your parents are emotionally connected to their home. Expect apprehension when you first bring up moving. They will need time to ponder and accept the idea. Often, seniors feel moving means losing control of their lives. To help them transition, explain that their opinion matters and that they have a say in where they live. Giving them time to come to the same conclusion as you will help them feel more confident and less distressed.

How to Talk to Elderly Parents About Moving: 

Talk with your parents at a family meeting with all their loved ones. This will give everyone the opportunity to share his or her opinions and views. Active communication in the family will also build a better support system for your parents.

Elderly father and son  talking on the couch.

2. Figure Out Living arangements

This is the time to discuss the level of care your parents will need in their new home. The housing situation you choose with your parents will depend on needed care, available care, location and finances. Will they move into an assisted living facility? Are they downsizing to a smaller or one-story home? If you’re unsure, consider speaking with a social worker or geriatric care manager for advice. Professionals can provide valuable suggestions and insight on required care and living arrangements. 

Tips on Choosing Housing for Older Adults: 

Start by creating a pros and cons list for each housing option in your area. Include the distance to relatives as this may cause concern among siblings. Often, family members who live closer have more opportunities to get involved with parents’ care; however, this can lead to uneven divisions of responsibility among loved ones, so it’s important to discuss location up front. 

It’s essential to create an open dialogue with your family and come to an agreement on living conditions. Critically, your parents must have the final say during the decision-making process. After all, the living arrangement will ultimately affect them the most. 

Before you decide on a living arrangement together, visit the facility. This will help your parents get a feel for the environment, which may play a role in their decision. Take notes on how the employees interact with residents, what activities they provide, visitation guidelines (especially surrounding day trips for your parents and flu and COVID restrictions) and transportation arrangements. You can also research online reviews from past guests.

3. Sort Belongings.

Most seniors have lived in their homes for many years, which means they have a lot of stuff to sort through. Before you pack (or hire a moving company to pack for you), go through your parents’ home and organize their belongings. 

Organize possessions into four categories: keep, donate, throw away and preserve as keepsakes. Be aware of the emotional state of your parents as you go through their things together. Allow them to decide which pile to put their belongings in and take time to reminisce as you sort. It may help to watch a few episodes of “Legacy List with Matt Paxton” on your local public television station or the show’s website, as he provides a fantastic example of respectfully downsizing for and with older adults.

  • As you organize, picture where possessions will go in the new home. How much room do they have? Where will the furniture go? Create a model of the home on paper to help you envision what your parents’ new living arrangement will look like. 
  • Donate excess belongings to local charities. This is an especially important step if your parents are downsizing. If there are any local causes close to your parents’ hearts, consider reaching out to those organizations first before taking everything to your local secondhand store.
  • Consider hiring a junk removal company to come pick up broken, old and unwanted items. This will save you time with packing and cleaning. Many local Bekins agents offer this service.
Woman sorting clothes into cardboard boxes.

4. Clean, Clean, Clean!

Whether you’re renting, selling or keeping the home in the family, it’s important to clean the house once your parents move out. As you clean, repair any damages you find to keep them from getting worse. 

5. Hire a Moving Company. 

Booking a moving company will help ease the stress on you and your parents. In fact, your parents may feel more comfortable talking with a subjective third party than speaking with their children. Moving companies who specialize in moving seniors (like many Bekins agents) will offer comfort to the family. They also take on the burden of lifting heavy objects and ultimately make the process smoother for everyone.

You may want to consider having the moving company pack your parents’ belongings. They have the tools and knowledge to ensure valuables remain intact. This allows you to focus on your parents as they transition to their new home. 

6. Give Your Parents Time to Settle In. 

This is so important. Your parents may need days, weeks or months to adjust to the new living arrangements. Check in with them often to make sure they feel safe and comfortable.

Everyone reacts to moving in different ways. Some feel relief. Others feel hesitant to make friends. Most will feel some loss from the life change. Give your parents plenty of family support during this stage. Who knows, they may end up saying, “Why didn’t I do this a long time ago?”

Take the moving process slowly to ensure you and your parents have a smooth transition.

Bekins Specializes in Moving Older Adults. 

Many of Bekins moving agents are silver certified; this means they have participated in specialty training for moving older adults. We also have experience with downsizing assistance.  In fact, Bekins is a proud sponsor of Legacy List with Matt Paxton, an Emmy-nominated public television show focused on helping folks declutter and transition during a home relocation. 

When you’re ready to relocate your aging parents, get in touch with the trusted team at Bekins

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