The Wheaton Blog
Helping Seniors Adjust after a Move
Most elderly individuals start to need help with daily living as they age. To get help with daily tasks, seniors often move in with a family member or into an assisted living center.
When your elderly family member needs to move, the process involves more than simply setting a moving date. Many seniors need help handling the physical and mental stress that moving often causes. If you are helping a senior move, you can make the process easier by helping your loved one settle into his or her new home.
Here are some ways family members can help seniors adjust to life after moving.
Make Unpacking as Easy as Possible
You might put unnecessary stress on your loved one if you rush through the unpacking process. Your older family member may have decades’ worth of possessions to sort through. Take time to help your senior family member sort through his or her possessions as he or she unpacks.
As you sort, focus more on helping with the physical needs of moving rather than advising on what to keep and throw away. Your loved one may have placed sentimental value on items that may not make sense to you. If you pressure him or her to throw away these sentimental items, your loved one may become anxious or upset.
You’ll also benefit from hiring a moving company to handle the packing and moving. This way, you and your loved one can take the necessary time to unpack and sort through items.
Acknowledge Their Feelings of Loss
Many seniors live in the same home for many years before moving. Even if moving was your loved one’s idea, he or she may still deal with feelings of loss.
Acknowledge your loved one’s sadness after the move. Do your best to help your loved one cope with these feelings and try to help him or her focus on the positive reasons for moving.
A great way to help your loved one feel at home is by helping unpack and decorate. When family members are involved in the decorating process, they can help their senior family members feel more excited about the change. On the other hand, seniors who are left alone to unpack in their new space may feel lonely right out of the gate.
Encourage your elderly family member to decorate with personal items that have significant meaning, such as pictures or medals. Some items may bring back memories for your family member, and he or she may want to share stories with you. Be kind and listen to your family member’s stories as you unpack and set up various items.
As you decorate, be simple and specific with decorating choices to avoid overwhelming your family member. For instance, present decorating options with questions like, “Would you like the red curtains or blue?” rather than “Should we put up curtains?”
Encourage Your Loved One to Socialize and Get Involved
One of the most frightening parts of moving for seniors is feeling unfamiliar with new surroundings. You can help you loved one overcome unfamiliarity by helping him or her feel welcome and involved in the new home.
If you are helping your senior family member move into an assisted living center, help him or her talk and make friends with other residents while he or she is with you. Your loved one will have more people to socialize with if you help him or her make friends. If your loved one is moving in with you, encourage him or her to get involved in local senior activities.
Avoid getting pushy with your loved one if he or she seems uninterested in socializing or making new friends. He or she may need time to adjust before becoming social in a new setting.
Stay in Touch
If your loved one is moving into an assisted living center, make sure you visit often, especially in the first week after the move. When you visit your loved one, you can help him or her feel less alone.
Talk to your loved one and go with your instincts on how frequently you should visit. Your loved one may also enjoy visits from other people, like friends, siblings, and children, so encourage other family members to visit often.
Use these tips to help your senior family member adjust after moving. You can also check out our other blogs for more ways to make the moving process easier on your loved one.