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5 tips to help with a senior move

This decade, seniors nationwide will sell up to 11.3 million houses, and that will jump to more than 15 million between 2020 and 2030, according to a 2012 report by the nonprofit Bipartisan Policy Center. According to the National Association of Realtors report in 2012, one in four home sellers was 65 or older.

While much of the move for seniors is not any different than other move, such as ensuring that items are loaded properly to avoid damage, seniors do have special needs.

Here are some tips for helping seniors downsize before a move:

1. Be cognizant of your parents’ emotional ties to their possessions. While something may seem insignificant to you, it could be filled with memories for your parents. While they may know they can’t take the item with them, it may be especially important for them to know what will happen to it, whether it will be handed down to a family member or be donated to a charity.

2. Surround them with familiar furnishings. When you moved, you may have welcomed the idea of getting all new furniture. Most seniors don’t share that same excitement. While their new home may be much smaller, try to replicate it has much as possible by surrounding them with familiar furnishings. Take photos of how they arrange items in cabinets, for example, and arrange them in the same way in their new home.

3. Sort first, then pack. Helping parents move is an organizational challenge. Instead of packing everything up, take the time to go through items with your parents, let them talk about their memories, and then decide together whether the item will move with them, be given away, sold or donated. Be sure to take the items that your parents have been storing for you.

4. Choose words carefully. Avoid making your parents feel embarrassed about the condition of the house, such as poor housecleaning, or about items they’ve kept even though they appear to not be functioning or usable. Suggest a place where they could be donated, and take care of it for them.

5. Give plenty of time and space. You may want to get the house packed up in a weekend, but your parents may need more time. Sessions may need to be shorter than you’d like based on both their physical and emotional well-being. Some studies have shown that when seniors have a chance to reminisce, it can help reduce their stress. Listen, ask questions, and realize some days will be more productive than others.

For more information on senior moves or finding a certified senior move manager in your cities, contact the National Association of Senior Move Managers at www.nasmm.org. It is a nonprofit association of specialist companies assisting adults 55 and older with downsizing and relocation.

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