Moving at any age is one of the top ten stresses in life. Bidding farewell to a family home is an emotional strain for aging parents, who will need their adult children’s emotional support during this painful time.
Think of the move to a new home as “resizing” and not “downsizing, says an article on capecod.com, “5 Tips for Seniors Planning a Move: Think ‘Resizing’ Not ‘Downsizing.” While there’s no way to make it completely pleasant, emphasize the positives and find ways to transform the experience as much as possible into an exercise in giving and creating a legacy.
For instance, over the course of time, many households accumulate several sets of china, which hold many years of memories. One woman was counseled to give a set to a favorite niece so that the set would stay in the family and become part of the niece’s own family history.
To best support your loved ones, try implementing the following advice.
Keep in mind that the seniors, as well as their families, are under tremendous stress. Staying calm and being organized is a big source of support. When you help your loved ones “resize” to a smaller space, start early and allow them the time to go through their things to decide what belongings they want and which ones they need. Possessions in the “need” category take priority over those they want.
Start as early as possible because this will take longer than anticipated.
Start with living areas—including the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms.
If possible, get a floor plan of the new home to help determine what furniture they’ll be able to take with them.
Consider the items that are no longer needed but could be useful for someone else. A local charity or faith-based organization might be able to help with donations. Knowing that these possessions are going to those who would otherwise do without—or will make life easier for those struggling—may give a great deal of satisfaction. Above all, whether you are the person moving or the person helping the person moving, treat each other with as much compassion and patience as you can muster. This is a trying time for everyone.
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