Relocating may not always be smooth and straight forward, especially for seniors who have lived in the same family home for many years.
In this article, we provide some guidelines for caregivers helping seniors to relocate. We explore what needs to be done before, during, and after relocating to reduce the stress and challenges associated with moving.
The article also focuses on some of the safety concerns that need to be taken into consideration. The piece ends by looking at some resources that might be helpful for caregivers assisting seniors during a move.
An article published by the US National Institute of Health reports that most seniors prefer to remain in their own homes in their later years. However, this is often not an option as some may have to deal with physical disabilities and even cognitive impairment.
The same article reports:
Most seniors lack adequate information to “make informed value-based housing decisions” (Source). Hence, caregivers can help assist seniors to choose from some of the options presented below.
Relocating Within The Same Community
Downsizing to age in place involves moving to a home more suitable for the needs of seniors, often within a familiar community. The senior is living in the residence of their choice. This is an option that can help seniors remain independent in their later years.
Aging in place does, however, require that one is relatively mobile. Ensuring the senior lives with a partner, roommate, or someone nearby to spend time with is also essential.
For seniors that do not have families nearby, have health concerns, or do not want to worry about home maintenance, a retirement home may be a good option. This allows seniors to be part of a community while being independent and living near healthcare resources.
Caregivers may need to help seniors to start the process of looking for a retirement home well in advance of their relocation. This ensures that when they finally decide to move, they are moving into a place that meets their needs. For example, some homes may offer more or less community services and contact with peers.
Moving in With Family
For seniors who do not need professional care, moving in with loved ones can be an excellent option. This option usually requires the relocating seniors to downsize. This is because it is not likely that relocating seniors will have as much space in a family member’s home as they did in their own homes.
Depending on the senior’s needs, it might be necessary to make modifications to the house they are moving into.
Moving to a Different State or Abroad
Moving to a smaller home in another state or country is an option often considered for seniors who still feel healthy and mobile. According to the Social Security Administration, over 400,000 retirees collect their benefits from abroad. An indication that moving abroad is a common choice for some senior citizens.
While some seniors move abroad to live out their dreams of adventure, living in some countries can also be less expensive.
Although some seniors may want to move to a place they previously enjoyed on vacation, they should relocate temporarily. Staying in an area as a tourist and living there as a resident may lead to different experiences. After a while, they can move there permanently.
Some of the common destinations identified by AARP.org, include Thailand, Portugal, Vietnam, and Mexico.
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Caregivers aiding the senior move need to be aware that relocation is not only a physical process. It can often be a psychological process as well. Proper planning ahead of the move can make the process of moving a little simpler. Hence, a seniors’ checklist can be a beneficial tool to ensure that the process is smooth and ensure that nothing is left to the last minute.
Determining the Date
When helping seniors pick a time for the relocation, you have to decide which season would be ideal for the move. While moving in the summer may be more convenient, it can also be more expensive. Moving companies often face higher demand for their services during the summer months. Hence, you may need to hire the moving company well in advance to ensure that you don’t have to postpone the move.
Medical and Legal Documentation
Before moving, seniors may also need assistance in preparing necessary documentation. Examples of such documents include transferring medical records or updating insurances.
If the senior is moving into an assisted living facility like a retirement home:
You may need to sign documents allowing staff at the facility to make decisions in case of an emergency.
It may also be essential to ensure that the documents are kept in a secure place where the seniors can easily access them. A safe deposit box in the bank can be a safe place to store original documents such as wills, power of attorney, and annual tax returns. A fireproof safe at home may also work.
Budgeting For the Move
Relocating seniors may need help determining which resources are available for the move and how they are going to be used. It is often easy to budget for the big things such as travel fees, utilities, helpers, and travel insurance. However, it is also vital to ensure that smaller items such as moving boxes, tape, and bubble wrap are included in the budget. They, too, can accumulate into huge expenses.
Selecting the Right Company
Some transport companies have special packages for relocating seniors. An excellent place to identify over a thousand companies that can help seniors move is the National Association of Senior Move Managers.
To identify a reliable company, the website Moveseniors.com, an online resource for relocating seniors, identifies some of the factors you will need to consider. We summarize these factors below.
We compiled a list of the best moving companies in the country. In these companies, we identified some of the factors you will need to consider. We summarize them below.
License: Ensure that the company has a license. The company can either be licensed by the State Department of Transportation, State Association, or the Bureau of Consumer Affairs. The Federal Department of Transportation is responsible for licensing out-of-state movers.
Reviews: It is also essential to find out if a company has any complaints filed against it by looking at reviews. This information can be found on the Better Business Bureau website.
Legitimate place of business: It is easier for a company with an authentic place of business to be located if something goes wrong.
A clear breakdown of costs: The company must be able to provide an estimated analysis of fees and a signed order of service. This should include dates for loading and delivery.
Health and Safety: Only use a company that has employees who are adequately covered for any injuries that may occur when helping with the move.
Moving can be an exhausting process full of hazards for anyone involved. The following are some of the safety tips that should be considered when helping seniors to move.
- Large and heavy items should not be packed in boxes because boxes may not be strong enough to hold them.
- Do not lift any weight beyond your physical ability. Ensure you understand the proper lifting techniques and necessary lifting equipment.
- Check the new home for hazards.
- Keep a first aid kit close by.
- Avoid moving flammable substances without professional assistance.
- Wear appropriate protective clothing.
Reducing Stress during the Relocation
It can often be a challenge for seniors to detach from a place they have called home for decades. This can be emotionally draining or cause what is known as relocation stress syndrome. The following tips can help reduce stress during relocation.
- Help to make the new home resemble the old house as much as possible.
- Allow the senior to take part in the planning and decision-making process.
- Respect and care for the treasured possessions of relocating seniors.
- Respect the preferences of the seniors.
For seniors that are moving to living communities, helping them spend a few nights at the site before finally moving can help them get an idea of what it’s like to live there. That way, they won’t feel stressed when it is time to move.
Settling into the New Home
Once the most stressful part of moving is done, you can start helping the seniors adjust to the new environment. Help them to check that all their belongings are in place and begin unpacking. You can also assist them in getting to meet new people, know the community, and find hospitals and medical centers near them.
Resources for Senior Moving
The AARP Bulletin: Is a valuable resource providing information on how to handle issues. One such as crisis downsizing, a situation where the relocation has not been planned over a long time.
Seniorliving.org: Provides information on Senior Move Managers. The website also provides a comprehensive guide to senior housing.
The National Association of Senior Move Managers: This is not only a place where you can find senior move managers but also information on services you can expect a senior move manager to assist with.
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