elderly man looking out window in an empty room

Moving aging parents definitely pulls the heartstrings. It isn’t just the physical move, but also the lifetime of memories, decreasing independence, aging and physical limitations. 52% of all moves are people over the age of 50. Keep it simple and efficient by following these tips.

Choice matters

Just as you want a voice at the table, it matters your parent is involved in choices. Making decisions on where your parent is moving and the reason for moving without your parent’s input deepens the feeling of loss-of-control and causes unnecessary stress. Recognize and expect that moving will be unnerving and likely cause some grief as they say goodbye to their old life and home. Talk about hiring movers to help with loading and packing versus family members navigating the move.


Man laying out furniture on a blue print of a room

Change is not easy, especially to the elderly. To make it easier, get a blueprint of your new home. Use graph paper and lay out the rooms. Cut out true-to-scale furniture and plan where everything goes before arriving.

Ask your parent what needs to be taken with him/her and create a list of everything each room needs. This list can help determine what does not need to be packed and transferred to the new home.

Move, give away, donate or trash

A lifetime of accumulation must be broken down into four piles: keep, give away, maybe keep and get rid of. Talk about hard! Again, involve your parent in the process. You’d not appreciate someone separating your belongings without your input.

The “get rid of” pile and likely the “maybe keep” pile will break down into “donate” or “trash.” Expect many items, even the ones being thrown out, have an emotional attachment or memory for your parent and possibly even for you. Honor this.

Anything in good condition, donate. Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and Vietnam Vets all take items to give to people who need them. Many even pick up items from the house. There are likely other charities in your area accepting gently used items.

If it isn’t too much trouble, you can also hold a yard sale before junking any leftover items. When you are ready to pitch everything, 1-800-got-junk comes and removes unwanted items and accumulated trash from moving.

Store it

Now that you have donated and given away items, you may still need storage. Attempt to pass down family heirlooms now or give away unused furniture. Your parent may not ready to part with some of these yet. Don’t force them.

Storage units are secure and often easy to access. Any items that do not fit in the new home, aren’t ready to be given away, or simply are seasonal items needing storage can be housed until a later date. U-Haul and Public Storage have facilities nationwide and most cities have local companies with storage space.

Enlist the family to help

This is a large job. Enlisting family to help breaks down the job into more manageable parts. Give siblings and close family plenty of notice and choices of days or weekends. Get the kiddos to help, also!

If you need more help than family, check out other options. Caring Transitions offers help with packing, home staging, organizing and sorting paperwork, and more.

Senior Move Managers does many of the same things as Caring Transitions but also helps with customizing floor plans and disposing of unwanted items through auction, estate sales, buy-outs, consignment, or donations. They even assist in interviewing and scheduling movers, arranging shipments and storage, supervising packers and unpacking and setting up the new home.

Find healthcare

Medicine in hand of elderly person

If your parent is like most aging parents, there is at minimum one medication to be filled. It is important all healthcare is set up in the new location. Help find and schedule new doctors, as well as get refills on all medication before moving. Change pharmacies and send scripts there. Because some doctors have a waiting list, it is a good idea to schedule the consultation a few months before moving.

Planning travel ahead of time

You may be a weekend warrior, but likely your parent cannot handle that type of trip. Stops must be factored into the trip if you both are traveling by car. Crossover SUV’s and sedans are the most comfortable for your parent.

If the destination is far away, another option is for you to travel by car and your parent to fly. If you are uncomfortable with your parent flying alone, consider a sibling accompanying your parent while you drive. Call the airport ahead of time for any special requests such as wheelchair accessibility, oxygen tanks, and dietary restrictions.

Prepping the new home and the old

Ideally, you can prep the new house prior to moving your parent. The work may be waiting for you when you arrive. Some items to consider are electric stair lifts, walk-in bathtubs, bathtub stools, safety rails in the tub, ramps, handheld showerheads, and even simple things like night lights and cabinet organizers.

The old home should be ready to be sold, rented or passed to a relative. Thoroughly clean it or hire cleaners. Make repairs as needed. If you are selling your home, consider renting items to stage the house or use some of the furniture you are planning on giving away.

Hire Professional Movers

Moving an elderly parent is stressful. You need to be available to help your mom or dad with their emotional well-being and not be distracted by moving details. Hiring professional movers takes the stress off managing logistics, carrying a lifetime’s worth of belongings, and packing/unpacking. 

Have peace of mind knowing your loved one’s belongings are taken care of and secure during the trip. From packing to moving and unloading, we take the burden off your shoulders. Head over to The HomeTeam for a free estimate on moving your parents. 

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