Downsizing and packing up a home for a senior is always tough work. Going through mountains of clothing, pictures, knickknacks, and furniture to determine what to keep and what to throw away can be very stressful, especially if Mom and Dad are moving out of the family home after many years. Caregivers often find themselves responsible for the bulk of the work in moving, from packing to hiring movers. Fortunately, there are resources to make downsizing and packing up a home easier for the senior and for the caregiver.
Tackle that Packing
To start off, give yourself a daily box quota. Packing a few boxes a day for a couple of weeks is easier and less tiring than a weekend of marathon packing. Then, determine how much Mom and Dad can have in their new location and pack accordingly. You will probably have to throw away some items, but try to keep as many essentials and beloved keepsakes as possible. For the new home, talk about where Mom and Dad might like to place favorite pictures and knickknacks, and pack those items in specially marked boxes for early display to make the transition easier.
It can be uncomfortable for Mom and Dad to sort through their personal items. To help them out, have them sit in comfortable chairs in a large room. Bring in boxes of items and ask them to sort the possessions into three piles: keep, throw away, and store. Plan on re-sorting the ‘keep’ pile several times to whittle down the number of items to the appropriate amount.
Find and Work with a Good Moving Company
To make the most of Mom and Dad’s money, get quotes from several moving companies. While a low price is important, reliable and reputable service are essential for a safe, stress-free move.
Ask friends and family for their recommendations for a good moving company, and check online reviews when making a long-distance move. You can even call real estate agents to find out their recommendations. Then, learn as much as possible about the companies. Find out if they subcontract their work, for example, or if they offer insurance to cover damage or theft beyond a certain limit.
Once you choose the best option, confirm that the mover is licensed and registered to do business. Find out if the company is part of a state movers association. You can check with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for information about interstate movers, including complaint reports. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau to learn of complaints.
Contact the moving company two to four weeks before moving day to schedule services, and ask the company to come to Mom and Dad’s home for an estimate. While you can get an estimate over the phone, the bid may not be as accurate as an in-person consultation.
Stay Organized Through the Move
Contact the utility companies to schedule a service switch as soon as you determine a move date. Pack the least essential items first, and try to avoid combining items from different rooms in boxes.
Write the destination and contents on all four sides and the top of the box. For example, you would write “linens, bedroom” to make sure the box ends up at the right destination quickly. Then, gather items you’ll need for the final cleanup, such as brooms, garbage bags, and paper towels, and set them aside for easy access.
If Mom and Dad are moving to a new place within a day’s drive of the old location, take their basic supplies to the new place the day before the move. Having a couple days of clothing, personal care items, and pajamas can bring a sense of normalcy during the chaos and clutter of boxes.
Make the Move Easy on Everyone
Most importantly, keep your sense of humor during the move so you don’t stress Mom and Dad out. Moving is always difficult, but the experience can build happy and lasting memories for you and the seniors you care for. Unpack boxes and put their home together as quickly as you can to make their transition smooth and get the job done. In the end, you’ll feel great about how much you helped out.