Whether you are helping your relative move to retirement living, assisted living, serviced apartment or Commonwealth subsidised residential care; make those extra steps and consider the following when assisting with their move.
This may seem like a given. However, when helping to sort and pack items, 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 criticise.
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 cherished personal possessions. Ask them if they use the item and if they would mind if you donate it to a charity. 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 family member. It’s often easier to give away items if you know that they’re are going to a good 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. This will go a long way to help make the new place feel like home.
Find out before you move, how much space the new place has. If your relatives are moving from a four bedroom house to a smaller arrangement, then together you will 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.
Take a day to spend with your relative 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 bedroom. 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 relative get used to the idea of moving.
Have your relative 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 bedroom drawer.
Allow enough time that your relative does not feel rushed. Sorting through years of stuff is difficult and sometimes emotionally stressful. Give them time to absorb the change.
Sometimes it is easier for your relative to work with an outside party than with their children. We specialise in moving seniors, offering comfort both to your relative and the rest of the family. Families often comment that it is easier with caring outside help.
Allow your relative 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.
If you have access to the new home, take your relative 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.