Guest post by Harry Cline. Is there any task more dreaded than moving? While no one enjoys relocating to a new home, as a senior, you have it especially hard. In addition to the actual work of moving, you have to deal with the emotional labor of saying goodbye to the place you’ve called home for years. While moving is never easy, you can eliminate much of the stress by taking an organized approach to the task ahead.
Coordinating the Move
It’s enticing to handle the move yourself to save money, but it’s almost always more hassle than it’s worth. Not only is there lots to do, but if you sustain an injury while moving heavy items, you could be out for weeks or months instead of enjoying your new home.
While hiring movers is a huge labor saver, it still requires work of its own. You have to decide the level of service you want, find a trustworthy moving company, and coordinate schedules.
While younger households may choose to pack and load their own belongings and rely on movers for transportation only, seniors should opt for a full-service move. By letting professionals pack, load, and transport, you prevent accidental damage to your belongings, your home, and yourself. If the movers do break something or scratch a floor, the damage is covered by the company’s insurance.
Of course, you’re only offered such protections if you hire a moving company that’s licensed and insured. There are a lot of moving scams and dishonest companies out there, so it’s important to research to find a reputable company. Get references, read online reviews, and check each prospective company’s license number with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Protect Your Move website.
Your move will be a lot simpler — and cheaper — if you prepare before the big day arrives. When you live in a home for many years, you inevitably accumulate a lot of stuff. By decluttering before the move, you avoid spending time and money moving things you don’t need.
Downsizing is an emotional process, so it’s important to approach it methodically. Take it one room at a time and spread the work out over several weeks so you don’t wear yourself out. As you organize, ask yourself if you use each item often enough to merit its space in your home. If you’re not using something now, you probably won’t use it in the future either.
It’s often easier to start with large items that are easier to part with that don’t hold any sentimental value — bonus points if purging them allows you to upgrade to new versions to take to (or purchase when you get to) your new home. For example, if your mattress has seen better days or is seven to 10 years old, it’s probably time to replace it with a new one that will help you sleep soundly in your new home (be sure to check out online reviews to find the best one for you). Then look closely at couches, loveseats and recliners. Assess the quality of each piece and whether each should move on to the next place with you or be left behind. Once you’ve gotten rid of large pieces of old, worn-out furniture, you’ll feel inspired to go through the smaller items you no longer need or want.
For sentimental items, select the most important pieces to keep, and memorialize the rest in photographs and scrapbooks before gifting, selling, or donating. Use The Spruce’s tips for help deciding what to do with sentimental clutter. If it’s too much to handle alone, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from friends or family. A third party can be helpful for separating emotions from the process.
Moving day is hectic, and it’s important to stay organized if you hope to get through it with your sanity intact. Before the movers arrive, pack a go bag with the necessities you’ll need for the first days in your new home. Your go bag should include toiletries, medications, pet supplies, clean clothes, basic cooking supplies, chargers, and tools for assembling furniture, as well as comfort items like blankets and entertainment items. It’s important to set these items aside before packing starts so they don’t get lost in the chaos.
Pet owners should make arrangements for animals to be out of the house on moving day. If you don’t have a friend who’s willing to look after Fido on the big day, check out local dog-boarding or pet-sitting options. This prevents escapes, spares your pets unnecessary stress, and makes it easier for the moving crew to do their job.
If family and friends are helping with your move, have them arrive before the movers so everyone knows their role before the work begins. Divide your help into shifts so you have some people to assist with packing and others with unpacking at the new house. Don’t forget to buy snacks and refreshments to keep everyone happy and hydrated throughout the day.
Moving in your senior years is a big change, and it’s normal to feel a little stressed. But while moving is hard, it shouldn’t feel utterly overwhelming. To keep your move as stress-free as possible, start early, minimize what needs to be moved, and find help that you can trust.
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.