No one wants to upset that person and everyone wants the move to go as smoothly as possible. This can seem like ‘mission impossible’.
Census Canada data suggests Canadians approaching retirement age are now the fastest-growing demographic in Canada and experts predict 28 per cent of the United States population will reach retirement age within the next five years.
The children and families of the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation – people born between 1946 and 1960 are already helping their loved ones move into downsized or elderly assistance accommodations and often are not emotionally prepared for the task at hand.
Senior loved ones can be very set in their ways and often are not well equipped to express their emotional frustrations in a constructive way as moving day draws closer.
It all can seem like a daunting task.
Over the years, we have packed and moved many seniors and the important thing is to stay organized, be patient, calm and respectful throughout the move process.
If you are moving a senior loved one into a retirement facility or a condo, you should first contact the management to find out what they are allowed to bring in, appropriate moving hours and if they have any tips specific to their facility to help smooth the moving process.
- Organize and Start packing several weeks in advance. If your loved one is moving from a large home to a one bedroom condo, there will be more furniture than needed. Get a floor plan of the new space and help your senior plan the space with their favourite furnishings, then help them decide what to do with the extra furnishings. If the item is a family heirloom and can’t be accommodated in the new space, suggest giving it to a close family member like a favourite grandchild.
- Sort before you pack. Seniors tend to collect things they don’t need or use. Be sensitive when suggesting to get rid of possessions. Ask if they use the item and if they would mind if you donated it to raise money for the Salvation Army, for example. Start packing early so you won’t be overwhelmed as moving day draws near.
- Pack and clean as you go. When helping sort and pack your senior’s belongings keep in mind that their eyesight and reduced mobility prevents them from doing regular chores and can result in poor housekeeping habits. Instead of commenting, offer to clean as you pack and try not to be judgmental.
- You’ll will need more time than you think. Allow enough time so your loved one doesn’t feel rushed. Sorting through years of stuff is difficult and sometimes emotionally painful. Allow your loved one time to say goodbye. If they take longer to clean out the desk drawer because they found a stack of pictures, let them take the time to walk down memory lane. This is a very important part of the process. Be patient and listen to their life stories, there will come a time you will be glad you did.
- Make their new space feel familiar. Take pictures and colour samples of the inside of their current home. Try to decorate the new space and place objects in a similar way, so that their new space will feel like the old one. Be as detailed as you can from arranging the bedroom furniture to placing family pictures on the bureau. This will help make the new surroundings feel like home.
- Wrap small items in coloured paper. This prevents items like knick-knacks from becoming lost or thrown out.
- Label boxes on top and sides. Make sure to mark the top and sides of boxes as they’re packed and write in large letters to make it easier for your loved one to read. Make sure to label boxes containing breakable or sentimental items as ‘fragile’.
- Pack all electronic equipment in their original boxes. Otherwise use low-static bubble wrap when packing these items.
- Always use packing paper. When wrapping fine china and precious items, don’t use newsprint because the ink can bleed.
- Seal all boxes with packing tape. This makes it easier to stack and protect your senior’s belongings.
- Use boxes designed for the items you are packing. Dish packs for dishes and wardrobe boxes makes it easy for seniors to access their clothing on hangers.
- Check clothing before donating. It’s a good idea to sort unwanted clothing for donation prior to moving. Before donating any gently worn unwanted clothing, check pockets for valuables. Seniors often hide small valuable items like jewelry or cash in the pockets of suit jackets or shoes and forget where they hid it