Preparing A Senior For A Move: Focus On Gentle Decluttering And Solid Support

Dawn Hail
Dawn Hail
Published on September 21, 2017

Preparing A Senior For A Move

The moving process can be emotional for any family, but for seniors who are saying goodbye to a home filled with memories, the process can be particularly difficult. Whether a senior move is happening of one’s own accord or not, there is a lot that families can do to prepare their senior loved one for the adjustments ahead so they can embrace the changes that are on the way. When preparing a senior for a move, focus on gentle decluttering and solid support.

Work with your loved one on preparing for a move

When a senior is facing a move, the process is about a great deal more than just the stuff or belongings involved. Regardless of the reasons behind the move, it is important to include the senior in making decisions about what comes next. In order to achieve the best possible outcome from these discussions, family members should focus on being prepared and respectful, and work to keep the discussion positive and supportive.

Moving is often stressful for seniors, especially if they have been aging in place and are now facing a different type of living situation or home. Living situations for older adults often involve downsizing from a larger, cherished home full of memories to a smaller place, and families typically need to work on some decluttering in preparation for the big day.

Being prepared for the move is incredibly important, especially if your loved one has a disability. There’s a great guide available here that can be of some help if this is the case.

Older adults may struggle to cope with feelings of grief and a loss of control

Seniors Blue Book points out that seniors will often feel a loss of control as this moving process progresses, so anything that family members can do to help them maintain some sense of control can help in the adjustment process. Give them as much input on what they keep or where their new home will be as possible and help your parents say goodbye to what they are leaving as they prepare to settle into their new home.

It is natural for seniors to experience feelings of grief as this all happens and it can be helpful to anticipate this and acknowledge it, suggests Aging Care. Even if the move is initiated by your loved one, or will ultimately be mostly a positive experience, there will surely be feelings of loss along the way. You may not be able to eliminate these difficult feelings, but acknowledging them and lending your support can help a great deal.

Allow time for the decluttering process to play out

When it comes to sorting through belongings with a senior in preparation for a move, family members need to be prepared for some challenges. It is not unusual for an older adult to want to hold onto some items that don’t necessarily make sense to others or do not seem to be useful any longer. These items may be connected to memories or achievements the senior experienced, or may be tied to a cherished loved one who has already passed away.

Senior Planet shares that it is important to break the decluttering process up into small chunks of time rather than try to tackle too much at once. Focus on separating items in one area at a time into boxes to keep, toss, or sell and donate, and you might need to help your senior follow through with paring things down significantly versus keeping too much.

Get creative about how to preserve memories without keeping everything

For nostalgic items, you may want to take a photograph of the item and then give away or discard the actual item. Having a picture available, perhaps in a folder or album, can help your senior hold onto those precious memories without the bulk of the items taking up space. Be prepared to help your loved one dispense of all of the items that need to be donated or sold by lining up charities, consignment stores, and other easy options for clearing things out.

Moving can be difficult for seniors who are saying goodbye to treasured mementos and the control of being in a home they may have loved. There can be many positives to purchasing a new home as a senior, especially if it allows for further aging in place, but the process will likely have some difficult moments. Families should recognize that the decluttering process is about much more than just the stuff involved, and using a tender approach to sorting through items can set the stage for a smooth adjustment on the other end of the move.

[Image via Pixabay]

Author: Jim Vogel (ElderAction.org)