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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tips for Helping Mom and Dad with a Later Life Move

Written By: Margit Novak

Senior moves are stressful for the entire family. Conflicts sometimes develop between siblings over who bears which portion of the burden, or over the disposition of material items. As you work with your parents and siblings, keep three objectives equally in mind — caring for your parents, taking care of yourself, and maintaining harmony in the family.

Here are a few key things to keep in mind if you planning a move with a older loved one:
  • Let your parents’ emotional and physical comfort guide the process
Your parents’ priorities may be different from yours. For example, if books were very special to them, they may need to determine what will happen to the volumes not going with them before they are willing to focus on other issues. Attempting to force your parents to proceed in a sequence that doesn’t address their priorities may result in your winning the battle but losing the war. Your parents’ perspective may differ from yours. They may prefer old and worn objects to newer items that are in much better condition. Seemingly insignificant items may be loaded with personal meaning and memories, while objects of great material value may be less important. Allow them to make the decisions.
  • Accept their gifts
Your parents may want to give you items, including some you may not wish to receive. Take them anyway. Store the items in your basement if you must, but accept them graciously. Knowing that cherished objects are with family can bring comfort and peace of mind to your parents.
  • Be Tactful
Often poor health and failing eyesight result in housekeeping practices that are less stringent than they once were. Tactfully offer to clean things as you help them sort. Avoid making your parents feel badly about the home they are leaving.
  • Focus on sorting, not packing
Preparing for a move is a major organizational challenge at any age, and doubly so if you are downsizing as well. It’s not uncommon to have items going to your parents’ new home, to an adult son in Maine, a daughter in Illinois, the Salvation Army, the neighborhood consignment shop, and the local dump. Attics, basements, garages, closets and cupboards....there may be forty years of belongings to sort through. Many people feel overwhelmed. It’s here more than anywhere else that you are needed, not in the packing process. Helping your parents sort and organize their belongings is the single most important thing you can do to reduce the stress of moving, ensure a smooth move, and save money in the long run.
  • Let your parents say goodbye
When you work with your parents, keep sorting sessions brief (2-3 hours at most). Constant decision-making is emotionally exhausting. Accept that some days you will accomplish less than you had hoped. The sorting process brings up lots of memories. Stories and reminiscing are natural. It’s all right to be directed in your goal, but let your parents enjoy their recollections. Don't forget the need to say goodbye to their home, as well. Particularly if they raised children in the home there will be many memories which are important to recall, even record, in order to say goodbye.
  • Try to replicate the old environment as much as possible
Your parents will be experiencing a lot of change; it will be comforting to have some things stay the same. Photograph each shelf in the china closet, the arrangement of pictures on walls and items on bureaus. The photographs help recreate the feel of the former residence with amazing accuracy and speed.
  • Keeping your eye on the big picture will help maintain harmony in the family
You have many concerns for your parents, but may be unable to provide the support you would like. A professional Senior Move Manager can fill the gap. Contact Aging with Grace by calling 800.626.9440 for more information about the services of a professional senior move manager and to identify move managers in your area.

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