Moving In with an Elderly Relative - dummies

By Carol Levine

Copyright © 2014 AARP. All rights reserved.

So you’ve decided that long-term care for you or your elderly relative will be solved by multigenerational living, with all its caveats. You’ve done all the planning, designing, remodeling, and negotiating. Now it’s time for the move. Moving is one of life’s major stressors, way up there with illness and divorce, so take time to organize this event.

If your parent has accumulated lots of stuff over the years and is determined to keep it, you may have to deal with a hoarding problem.

Most of the moving process is the same steps you would go through if you were moving to a new home, new town, or even overseas. If the move is a parent moving from a familiar place to the unknown, giving up all the familiar surroundings can be hard, even if the move is welcomed and appreciated.

Be patient and sensitive to feelings of sadness and the memories associated with the home and its contents. If this move means you are moving in with a parent, the same advice applies. Allow yourself time to do things right for yourself and your parent.

Getting started on the move

Start the process of decluttering well ahead of the move. Doing it in small steps — a few hours a day — makes it less upsetting and reduces the chances that important items will be discarded by mistake. Do the following to make the process go smoothly:

  • Shred cancelled checks and other unneeded papers. Check with an accountant about what records need to be retained.

  • Toss outdated food or medications.

  • Take unused or expired medications to a pharmacy for instructions on safe disposal. Some pharmacies have postage-paid bags you can use to mail the drugs for proper disposal.

  • Donate clothes or household items that will not be needed in the new home.

  • Collect all important papers and keep them in one place. These may be deeds, wills, birth certificates, passports, discharge papers from the military, or other legal documents. These are hard to replace and may be necessary to obtain benefits or for other reasons.

  • If siblings or others have used the home as a storage unit, ask them to reclaim and remove them. They might decide that these things are not so valuable after all and add them to the discard list, or they may be thrilled to have them back again.

Planning ahead for the move

The more you do ahead of time, the easier the transition will be down the road. Be sure to

  • Start a notebook or computer file folder for the move. Include to-do lists, phone numbers, appointment times — anything that you may forget but will need at some point.

  • Get estimates from moving companies. Better rates are available for nonpeak times (middle of the month, for example).

  • Make a floor plan of the new home, with accurate measurements and placement of doors and windows, so that you know exactly how much space there will be.

  • Measure any big pieces of furniture (bed, chest of drawers, tables) and decide where they should be placed by the movers.

  • Make plans for pets to be moved and accommodated in the new home.

  • Refill prescriptions in advance.

  • Obtain or order any medical equipment that will be needed so that it is delivered and in place when the move happens.

Sorting and packing for the move

Use these tips to help the packing stage of the move easier and quicker:

  • Go through one room at a time, starting with the easiest. Sort the items into piles: definitely save, possibly save, donate, and discard. You and your relative may have disagreements about what goes where. Try to compromise but make sure that all truly unneeded and unusable items are discarded.

  • Making packing an event to bring family and friends together. Having a group together takes away some of the anxiety and also creates a positive atmosphere.

  • Label everything with its destination.

  • Make sure you keep all the items needed during the move in one place: keys, mediations, clothing, legal documents, checkbook, cellphone, first-aid kit, cash, and your moving notebook.

Settling in after the move

New connections will have to be made: membership in a new congregation; a new doctor, dentist, dry cleaner, and barber or hair stylist are all important to making your parent feel comfortable. Introduce your parent to your neighbors and friends.

Or, have your parent introduce you to people that they know. Take a tour of your community. Walk around the shops and point out your favorite stores for groceries.

After all the boxes have been unpacked and the furniture rearranged, take some time to get accustomed to the new arrangement. What didn’t work out exactly as planned? What adjustments need to be made? Don’t try to do everything at once.