May 17, 2016
Moving an elderly loved one into a care facility can be a difficult process. Many seniors see the move as a loss of their independence and are unable to imagine the benefits of their new home. Others are overwhelmed by the move itself, and, for them, selecting which treasures to leave behind is just too painful. Leaving a long-time community can also be very stressful, and possibly losing touch with friends adds to the anxiety. For you, helping your parents adjust to this change is as important as moving their possessions.
Choosing what to take can be a daunting task. Some facilities provide a few things while others give you a clean slate. Learn what's available before deciding what to leave behind. For your loved one, establishing a "home" at the new site is imperative, so decorating it with as many personal items as possible will set that foundation. Visual reminders of their happy life provide reassurance that the "new place" is still home. Even a beloved quilt can provide comfort when they awaken in an unfamiliar room.
Your elderly parents may have many possessions that will become unnecessary after the move. However, they may be deeply attached to those possessions, so their preferences should direct the sorting and disposing of them. Valuable items such as jewelry and art are part of the estate and should be managed as such, going into secure storage or passed to a beneficiary. Friends may want individual items that carry emotional value. For items that are neither financially nor emotionally valuable, often sharing these assets with the less fortunate can give your loved one comfort knowing they will be appreciated. Remember that separating from a lifetime of treasured possessions is hard, so take the time your senior needs to make the process as gentle as possible.
The smoothest move will be well-planned, with plenty of time for grieving and decision-making before the actual day. Ongoing discussions about the benefits of their new home will add an element of happy anticipation so they can look forward as much as look back. Planning fun things to do in the future also helps ensure your loved ones never feel alone or neglected as they embrace their new home.