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9 Ways to Ease Anxiety on Moving Day: Tips for Seniors

Moving is a stressful time under the best of circumstances, and it can be even more stressful for seniors moving out of their home. Whether it’s time to downsize to a new house or move to a long-term care facility, Senior Relocation Stress Syndrome (also known as Transfer Trauma) is real, and it can manifest in many ways—including insomnia, agitation, depression and short-term memory loss.

The number one key to a successful, anxiety-free moving day is preparation. Getting your ducks in a row well in advance of the big day will help to alleviate unnecessary worry and ensure a smoother transition.

To help make moving day as smooth and stress-free as possible, we’ve mapped out our top moving day tips for seniors, including:

  1. Choosing the right home
  2. Making to-do lists
  3. Selecting cherished items
  4. Hiring professional movers
  5. Packing and stacking
  6. Getting closure
  7. Focusing on the positive
  8. Setting aside personal items
  9. Staying on schedule

Let’s jump in. 

1. Choosing the right home

First things’ first…where will you or your loved one live? Are you moving into a smaller house or apartment or to a senior living community? Independent or assisted living? Skilled nursing? No matter the answer, no one likes to be told where they have to live, so communication is key to ensure everyone’s needs and wants are accounted for during the search for a new home. 

Consider what features and amenities are important—is there a preference for the first floor or 10th? Garden, water, or city view? What about in-suite laundry, meal preparation and social activities? These may seem like small details, but they’re the ones that matter most to the person making the move.

2. Make to-do lists

Avoid getting overwhelmed by making a to-do list (or several lists) with reasonable, chronological deadlines. Start by listing everyone you’ll need to alert with the new address. Then, working backwards from the move out date, answer questions such as:

  • Will we need a storage unit?
  • Will we need professional movers?
  • Will we need to recruit friends and family to help with packing and moving?
  • What’s our budget for the move?
  • Which items can be donated and/or sold to lighten the load?
  • Are there any valuable items (like jewellery or artwork) that should be safeguarded during the move?
  • What services need to be cancelled and/or moved?
  • Do we need to find a new doctor, dentist or pharmacy?

Writing everything down in a list makes it easy to tackle one task at a time and gives everyone peace of mind that nothing will be forgotten. Above all else, remember to give yourself plenty of time—there’s nothing more stressful than scrambling to pull it all together at the last minute.

EXPERT ADVICE: If you are able, consider hiring a senior moving specialist like Moves for Seniors. Senior moving pros can help with the process of planning, downsizing, and moving. Having an objective partner can remove some of the emotion and make the process much more manageable—and therefore less stressful.

3. Selecting cherished items

Seniors often move to downsize into a more manageable space, which means giving up some hard-earned or sentimental possessions. That’s no easy task. 

Take some time in the early stages of planning to assess exactly how much “stuff” there is to deal with, then talk about which items are most important and which ones can be donated, sold, or tossed away. Some people will approach the task one room at a time, while others prefer to break it down by category, like furniture, appliances, electronics, etc. There may even be things hiding in a closet, attic or basement that have been long forgotten, so don’t forget to account for these spaces.

This can be an emotional process, and that’s OK. These items were amassed over many years and hold many memories. If you are helping someone else with this part of the move, the kindest thing you can do during this process is to give your loved one the power to make decisions and let them set their own pace. 

You should also be able to see a layout for the new home before you move. Be sure to measure and plan in advance so you know how much stuff can go with you or your loved one. If you are working with a senior move professional, ask them to help with a space plan so it’s all mapped out when you arrive.

4. Hire professional movers

Whether you’re moving locally or to another state, working with professional senior moving specialists like Moves for Seniors can eliminate a great deal of stress for you and/or your loved one, as well as ensure a smooth move-in process to the new home. 

Senior moving specialists offer a range of services to suit your unique circumstances, including: 

  • Consulting and move facilitation
  • Downsizing and clean out assistance
  • Storage
  • New home preparation
  • Local and long distance moves
  • Shipping

Learn more about how Moves for Seniors can help

5. Pack and stack

Use stackable boxes whenever possible. Plastic containers with lids are great for quick moves. Not only do they stack neatly in the back of a pick-up truck or van, but they also function well as storage on the other end, making unpacking just a little easier.

6. Getting closure

It’s all too easy to get caught up in your to-do lists leading up to moving day, and many families forget to allow themselves time for emotional closure. Some people host house-cooling parties (as opposed to house-warming parties) when moving on to a new residence. These events can be a great opportunity to reminisce with family and friends about all the wonderful times they’ve shared in the home. It’s also the perfect time to take lots of photos that will offer comfort and familiarity in the new home, especially if it’s a long distance transition.

7. Focus on the positive

Get excited! Acknowledge the emotions of moving, whether it’s yourself or your loved one moving, but try to focus on the positive as much as possible. This is a new chapter filled with exciting prospects and unknown adventures. It’s also an opportunity to redecorate, expand social circles, and possibly even enjoy home-cooked meals—cooked by someone else. There may be classes available, cultural outings, clubs, and much more to take advantage of.

Ironically, many seniors are thrilled to discover that they actually gain more independence after moving to a senior living community than they did in their own home. With fewer hazards to worry about (like slips and falls), help with daily tasks (like cleaning and meal prep) and access to onsite amenities (like groceries and entertainment), a move often means that seniors can spend more time enjoying themselves. 

8. Set aside personal items in a 1st-night bag

We strongly recommend packing an overnight bag with 1-2 days worth of important items. The last thing you want to do after a move is rush to unpack everything all at once. Packing a box of personal items eliminates the stress of searching for stuff you might need, such as:

  • Medications
  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shower curtain
  • Bed sheets
  • Bath towel / hand towels
  • PJs
  • Knife and fork
  • Can/bottle opener
  • Napkins
  • Coffee mug
  • Some finger foods and snacks
  • Bottled water
  • Paper plates
  • Valuables and important sentimental items

Having these items at your fingertips will make the first night—and the first morning—a lot less stressful.

9. Stay on schedule

Timing can be difficult to coordinate during a move, even local moves. Do your best to map out your route in advance and create a schedule that leaves ample time for delays or other unexpected events. It’s easiest to start by figuring out what time you hope to arrive at the new location, then work backwards to determine your departure time. Be sure to coordinate with the moving truck as best you can, too, and don’t forget to allow time for pit stops along the way. 

Wrapping Up

The move from a long-time home to senior housing or a smaller house can be complex and exhausting. In addition to packing, transporting items, and unpacking, you’ll need to plan for things like:

  • Your own transportation and/or transportation for your loved one—most senior living communities and senior moving specialists will not coordinate patient transport
  • Meals while you’re on the road
  • Overnight accommodations if moving long distance

Ready to make the move? Get your quote today.