from Active Daily Living
There may come a day when your loved one – perhaps a parent – will need to downsize, either due to health or because they desire hassle free living. Moving is stressful for anyone, and for older adults the need to downsize can symbolize one of the last stages of their life. Caregivers need to be patient and understanding during this transition.
First realize – even if your loved one made the choice to move – it can be a stressful situation for all involved. It’s difficult for the person who is moving to leave behind a life of independence and great memories in their old home. The older adult may feel abandoned or saddened as he enters this phase of his life.
Guilt can be a heavy emotion that you, the caregiver, feel because of the move. You might feel guilty that you aren’t able to provide enough care for your loved one to stay in his/her home. Caregivers often feel relieved that their loved one is moving into a community where he/she can get more help – and that may cause guilt.
Even if you don’t agree with the decision to move, it’s important not to criticize and to be helpful during this time. You may be sad that they are leaving a house full of childhood memories, but you need to stay positive for your loved one. Be prepared to do a lot of listening.
Respect their wishes and be gentle with them as you help them prepare for the move. As moving day draws near, let your loved one take the lead. Don’t do all the sorting and packing – and don’t immediately start talking about selling their house.
They won’t be able to take everything from a house into an apartment. Some independent and assisted living units are furnished. One way to help is to research the local goodwill organizations in your loved one’s area. Many of these organizations will arrange for a truck to come to the house and pick everything up. If there are large items that your loved one can’t part with, rent a storage unit.
Let your loved one make the decisions of what is important to them to keep. It is hard for many people to actually “let go” of their possessions. Encourage them to keep family photos and small items of sentimental value to decorate their new home.
Once they have moved into their new home, call and visit often. If you live far away, you can keep them up to date on family news through phone calls, email, and Skype. Encourage them to stay busy and meet their new neighbors. If they have moved into a continued care community, check and make sure the facility is being well run. Stop by on off-hours and get to know the staff. Join the center’s family council if they have one.
References: American Health Care Association & Helpguide.org
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