Moving can be stressful for anyone, but senior citizens are likely to face unique and difficult obstacles when it comes to planning a move. Relocating means you may need assistance with downsizing, packing, finding reputable moving companies to book your move with, and planning every other aspect of moving day. Compared to a recent college grad, for example, a senior will usually have a large volume of personal items and treasured belongings. That alone can turn downsizing into a days or even weeks-long process. Seniors may also have to be mindful of health and safety issues that need to be taken into consideration while planning a move.
In our experience, typically the adult children of seniors will help them plan their move. Whether you’re a senior planning a move or the adult child of a senior helping your parent get organized for moving day, keep reading for Two Small Men with Big Hearts Moving’s comprehensive guide to planning a move for a senior citizen. With 40+ years in the industry, we have a wealth of experience that we’re more than happy to share with our readers.
We’ve written a lot about downsizing, but downsizing for seniors tends to be uniquely challenging — seniors will normally have accumulated lots of items over the years, and there may be particularly senitmental items that you’re not ready to part with. Not to worry, though. For unique challenges, there are unique solutions, and you have options!
Storing your belongings is sort of a downsizing cheat-code — it may not technically count as downsizing, but we understand that there are some items you’ll want to keep that you may not have room to store in your new home. This can include heirlooms that have passed down through generations of your family, or simply the most treasured items you’ve gathered throughout your life that you’re not ready to say goodbye to just yet.
If storage is an expense that you’re not prepared to take on, you can reach out to your family and friends for help. One of your loved ones will likely offer up a portion of their garage, basement, or attic to give you peace of mind about your most cherished possessions. It’s good to keep in mind that in this case, you should be sure to pack your belongings into secure plastic bins instead of cardboard boxes. The last thing you want to worry about is mold and mildew in what are often the dampest areas of a house!
In-house storage options have gotten creative in the past decade or so, and there are plenty of ways to maximize your storage options to get the most out of your new space. Utilize under-the-bed storage containers, extra tall, narrow shelves, collapsible laundry baskets, and cupboard organizers. There are plenty of clever storage hacks that can help you optimize your new space to house items you didn’t think you’d have room for!
You may not have the time or interest in listing every single item you want to get rid of, one by one, to sell online. While selling online may be faster to get rid of certain items, we still believe in the power of a good old fashioned yard sale. You can post on your preferred social media to let your network know where and when, make a sign as simple or as funky as you want to put in front of your house — and we recommend a sign for the busiest main street near your home, too — and ask your family and friends to let their extended networks know to stop by. If you’re feeling extra creative, you can also create small signs and ask local cafes to put them up if they have a community bulletin board.
Some moving companies offer special discounts for seniors. When you’re considering moving companies, there’s no harm in asking if they offer a discount for seniors. This is a courtesy that can indicate a culture of care and community-mindedness within a business, so there’s no reason not to inquire!
Moving can be exciting, but it’s important to remember that saying goodbye to a home — especially one you’ve lived in for many years — will inevitably come with some unexpected, strong surges of emotion. Transitions can be emotionally trying, and the best thing you can do to prepare yourself is embrace that you may need a good cry every now and then. Lean on your loved ones for support and remember that saying goodbye to your old house means saying hello to a brand new chapter in your life. Yes, that can be scary, but it can also lead you to an amazing opportunity for new friendships, a new community, and a fresh start in a new home.
Of course, it’s important to feel every emotion. The prospect of moving can be sad, it can cause anxiety, and it can feel lonely. If you need extra support, make sure you reach out to the people in your life who are best equipped to help you navigate these emotions. If you prefer to handle those feelings on your own, that’s okay too!
If you find that you are struggling with sad emotions and that they’re turning into more than you can cope with, we want to make sure our readers are aware of Relocation Stress Syndrome. You can read more about it by clicking here, but we’re happy to summarize. Relocation Stress Syndrome is described as a nursing diagnosis (note: not a medical diagnosis) that can occur in older adults in the process of moving, especially if you’re moving into assisted living from a private residence. Relocation Stress Syndrome symptoms include anxiety, confusion, hopelessness, and loneliness. Please keep your health top of mind and reach out to family, friends, or even your doctor if you feel you may be experiencing this.