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Alleviating Stress In Seniors On Moving Day

Reviewed by: MySeniorCare Staff
Last Updated: 4/14/2010 9:32:38 AM

For a caregiver, one of the most difficult challenges can arrive on the day when loved ones move out of their longtime home and into new living situations. Even if they embrace the move, or at least seem to have accepted it, there still is going to be emotion and nostalgia on moving day.

Caregivers can take steps to help reduce the stress and to limit the emotional pangs. A first consideration is to decide whether you even want your loved ones to be present on moving day. It may be preferable for them to spend the day someplace else while the movers are at work, but only if the caregiver expects the loved ones to be highly distraught. Otherwise, it's best to face the experience.

What's a Keeper & What Goes?

Also keep in mind that regardless of whether loved ones are present for the actual move, they likely will be involved in choosing which keepsakes to retain and which to let go. Downsizing can become the most challenging aspect of moving day. Caregivers may wish to adopt a colored dot system: Green dots for must-keep items, yellow dots for items that are desired for keeping but not mandatory, red dots for items to be sold or given away. Undertake this process a few weeks ahead of time so that loved ones won't feel rushed or confused, and so they will have time to change their minds (within limits, of course). For the red-dot items, emphasize the value and benefit that will be received by the purchaser or the person receiving the gift. Transform the downsizing into a giving experience. As for furniture and appliances, work together to plan their arrangement in the new living quarters.

It will be a good idea to look at the weather forecast. Aim to avoid extremes. This may seem like a minor point, but the conditions outdoors can make all the difference in how somebody feels about the day, even if most of the labor is happening indoors.

Caregivers should constantly adopt a positive and forward-looking outlook as moving day approaches. Emphasize the positives that will be gained via the new living arrangements for the loved one, such as improved personal safety or shopping convenience, plus no more need to mow the lawn or plow the snow, or pay a steep utility bill.

Friends Can Be Made in Advance

A vital part of the move is the social contacts that loved ones will have in their new home. To the degree that social arrangements can be made in advance, this will help to relieve the stress and strain of moving day. Ideally, loved ones will already be acquainted with some new friends before they make the move.

Caregivers should give special attention to preparing change-of-address forms, canceling utilities and phone service, and making sure those services will be immediately available at the new location. There's no reason for loved ones to move, and then lack phone service for two days.

In the loved one's new home, even if caregivers are tired and weary from the move, unpacking should take place as promptly as possible. Caregivers don't want their elders looking at boxes and cartons. Keep things hopping and get the job done.

Relocation services, which go beyond simple furniture movers, are available in some communities. Caregivers may contact their local agency on aging, or commission on aging, for references and support.

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