Moving mom or dad from your family’s home after decades of building memories and stacks of memorabilia can be overwhelming. There’s endless paperwork to get them situated in their new residence, an emotional farewell to a place that represents an irreplaceable part of their lives, and there’s all that stuff, stuff, stuff. The secret is to bite off small pieces in order of priority:

1. Find a safe place for your loved one to live.

Unless you are lucky enough to have preplanned this move with ease and intention, many families are forced to make the search in the midst of a crisis—quickly after a fall or medical emergency. A great starting point is the updated guide published by the Aging and Disability Resource Center in your area.

2. Involve your parents in the decision-making process as much as they are able and willing to participate.

Listen to their desires and talk about priorities. For example, it may be unreasonable to reject a place because of the view when the facility offers the level of care and enrichment activities that is essential to your loved one’s well-being.

3. In the beginning, pack only essentials.

Select only the clothing, linens, books, dishes, toiletries, medications, pictures, and furniture that are essential for the first two weeks in the new place. Do not begin by sorting an entire closet of sheets and towels at home; rather, take what you need and close the door. Think of it as suitcase packing versus box packing.

4. Consider hiring a mover that specializes in helping the elderly.

You’ll discover that they are especially warm and respectful to elders during an emotional time. Often, they can shrink wrap dresser drawers closed and move the entire piece intact, without packing and unpacking its contents. Ask your facility’s staff for referrals.

5. Put out a call to your family, extended family, and friends at church or work.

Ask them to send a card or note to your mom or dad at the new address so they have good mail to open upon their arrival. Encourage young children to include a colored picture or recent school photo.

6. Hang pictures in similar groupings at the new apartment.

Encourage a “brag wall” of children and grandchildren or mementos of a person’s career. Your parents will make new friends who will certainly ask about their family and work life.

7. After your parent is settled and safe, shift your attention to cleaning out the family home.

The process will proceed more smoothly without the worry about your parent’s safety or emotional distress. If you or your family members are not equipped to deal with this big project, inquire about hiring a senior move manager to help.

There are many more questions that will arise as you are choosing and moving your parents into a new residence. Please call Valley VNA at (920) 727-5555 to ask us about the process, recommendations, or referrals.