Memories aren’t made for boxes: Easing moving stress for older adults

Memories aren’t made for boxes: Easing moving stress for older adults

Apr 19 2024

Memories aren't made for moving boxes, but, as the need arrives, here are some ideas to make moving a loved one easier on them - and you.

Moving out of the family home of several years means plenty of memories and mixed emotions to pack up. For many aging adults, it means saying goodbye to the places they built their families, and leaving behind communities they spent decades building. Easing the stress of moving an older adult loved one in your family to a new home or facility can be a point of contention, confusion, or mounting pressure to get the details right – before, during and after the fact. It’s important to plan ahead – and even play out – moving day well before the time comes to help you consider ways to make it easier on you and your family.

Below are some ideas to help you ease moving stress for your loved one.

Empower them, actively.

Be sure to include your older loved one in decisions on moving day and lay them out plainly if it helps. It may feel easier to make all the decisions as fast and as cost efficient as possible, but from the perspective of your loved one, it can be highly emotionally upsetting to be left out of decisions that will directly affect them.

Respectfully re-home.

Antiques or items around the house can have very strong emotional attachment and meaning to your loved one. What looks like clutter to you may mean decades of detailed memories to others in your family. Ease the stress of downsizing belongings by helping your loved one choose their most cherished pieces. Then, put those items on display in the new home as soon as possible to bring a sense of familiarity for all.

After, help your loved one re-home the items they can’t take with them. Grandchildren, cousins, or close friends are a great place to start. Ask your loved one to hand write a note to go with each item telling of its importance if they’d like – this exercise can be a healthy way of letting go or coping with change.

Plan for positivity.

Planning down to the day and minute may compact stress, but having a good attitude can ease the tension.

Use doorframes to stop at, pause, and leave tension in the last room. Choosing to overlook a comment said in stress can improve the attitude of the whole crew. It’s hard, but you can do it.

Another idea; consider bringing the kiddos! It may sound chaotic, but kids have their way of making things funny, seeing the bright side, and bringing joy to their elders. Maybe the person you’re moving could even watch the kids while you move, so everyone feels like they’re helping out – because they are.

Nurture your own mental health before moving day.

Although the practice above is helpful, things like differing family viewpoints can create frustration. Remember to focus on your mental well-being at this time, too. You may feel the responsibility to help relocate your loved one, but it’s also important to take care of yourself before moving day – after all, they’ll be counting on you.