Moving Tips for Senior and People with Disabilities

Hiring movers, downsizing and processing emotions are just some of the things you’ll have to consider when helping a senior or individual with disabilities move into a new home. Fortunately, there are some resources to help make the move easier.
Moving for seniors and people with disabilities is not only physically challenging; it carries with it heavy emotions as well. Many intricacies are involved when seniors or people with disabilities relocate — whether by choice or by circumstance. In virtually every case, physical assistance will be required, either via professional movers or with the help of friends and family, among other considerations.
Downsizing, packing efficiently, and even renting a storage unit represent just a few aspects of moving for seniors and people with disabilities. If you are helping a senior or disabled person move, you’ll want to start planning as soon as possible. This guide full of moving tips will help you get started.

Make a Moving Timeline
Planning a move is a laborious process. Senior citizens may have a lifetime’s worth of items to pack for, while people with a disability may need to transfer and install vital medical equipment. Either way, it helps to have a moving checklist to keep you on track throughout the relocation.
Since the moving process will likely take longer for the elderly and/or people with disabilities, you should begin planning a move as early as possible. Some tips for moving with the elderly and disabled include:
·         Establishing a timeline.
·         Setting a budget.
·         Researching moving companies.
·         Enlisting friends and family for help.
·         Downsizing.
·         Packing.
·         Mentally preparing for a change.
·         Scheduling utilities and things they’ll need in their new home.
No matter who is involved, a moving checklist helps break a monumental undertaking into small, manageable chunks.
Downsizing is almost always necessary when moving elderly parents into an assisted living facility or nursing home. However, culling down the many items a senior has collected over the years is no small chore. Often, these items carry sentimental value and can be difficult to part with. Downsizing can be hard for a senior for several other reasons as well, but, with the right approach, the entire process can be made less stressful. 
Marie Kondo, a tidying expert, and her KonMari Method have become wildly successful. This is because she asks the right questions to help mentally prepare people to keep or discard their personal belongings. Having a process like the KonMari Method can help your senior to downsize. Ask them a couple of simple questions, such as does this item bring you joy?
Analyzing items a person may be hanging onto in this way — clothes, furniture, sentimental objects, and more — can help someone better decide whether to keep them or not. Downsizing in this way can become much less emotionally taxing on a person when there’s a clear end goal. 
Nursing Homes and Assisted Living
Making the emotional transition of moving into an assisted living facility can be trying. But you can take certain steps to help ease this transition and make their new living situation feel more like home.
Loved ones and friends can help facilitate this transition by:
·         Helping with packing and moving.
·         Staying positive and providing support.
·         Calling and visiting often.
If not adequately prepared, loved ones and friends can also hinder this process. It may help to investigate the dos and don’ts of moving a senior into assisted care.

Packing Tips
A moving checklist, timeline, and downsizing efforts all pave the way toward the most crucial element of moving — packing. This will require special consideration concerning physical limitations, packing efficiently, and the probability of asking for or hiring help.
Get Packing Boxes
For everyone involved in the moving process, packing boxes in the correct way is crucial to minimize the risk of injury and, overall, to make the moving process easier. When packing boxes, it is best to err on the side of packing them lightly. This way, most anyone can pick up and transport these boxes safely. Even if it is the case that you have thicker, sturdier boxes, overloading them is likely to make things more difficult, rather than easy.
Boxes should always be labeled appropriately, not only to identify the possessions inside, but to determine items that will be needed immediately, in the near future, and at a later date. Being able to locate your items will make it easier to keep track of what you need and will make the unpacking simpler. For example, things that will be needed immediately can be packed last on the moving truck to be the first out at the new location.
Consider Using Storage Solutions
For items not needed immediately, articles that won’t fit in a smaller living space or items that a person just can’t let go of, storage may help. Assisted living facilities may provide services that will make it unnecessary to bring specific personal components, as they are offered on location. Other facilities may have more or less opportunity to bring along personal items. Fortunately, storage units come in many sizes and offer solutions to accommodate any amount of items.
For those who would rather their sacred belongings be close by — where they can have the peace of mind of knowing exactly where their items will be, and that they’ll be safe — storage units come with security features. Storage units provide an alternative to giving away or discarding personal possessions, with the added bonus of safety and security.
Hiring Movers
There may be instances when the friends and family of seniors and/or people with disabilities cannot assist in the move. Perhaps there isn’t enough time to get everything done before moving day. Moving services are available expressly to help seniors and others in need when moving.
For example, the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) can provide assistance. NASMM and specializes in helping seniors with the logistics of moving and downsizing. Those with disabilities can find moving services designed specially to help them with tasks such as lifting or transporting boxes. Many of these services are available at the local or national level.
Financial Assitance
Moving can take a financial toll on anyone, and seniors or people with disabilities are no different. Several organizations are making financial assistance available for those who will need help during their move. They may even shoulder some of the cost it will help to hire movers. If the cost of moving will be a concern, contact one of the following agencies:
·         Administration For Community Living (ACL): The ACL works with state and local governments. The organization has awarded more than one billion dollars in discretionary and mandatory grants to support services for seniors and people with disabilities.
·         ADAPT: This national grassroots organization is dedicated to the promotion of civil and human rights for people with disabilities.
·         Association of University Centers On Disabilities (AUCD): The AUCD provides services
Moving Day Advice
Moving day may be yet another stressful day for seniors and people with disabilities. Seniors may find it hard to move out of a place that they’ve called home for so many years. T, while those with disabilities might struggle with what they are physically capable of in their new location. Both groups may be frustrated by not having some of the things they had in their old homes. 
During this time, it is important to remember that not everything has to be done right away. This emotional adjustment period, coupled with a significant change in living conditions, will take some getting used to. Stay positive and remember that this move is for the best. While this will be a significant transition, some measures can be taken to help lessen the emotional impact.
Pack an Overnight Bag
It is helpful during the packing phase to pack an overnight bag. An overnight bag will ensure that every item needed immediately is present and accounted for. It may also be nice not to have to dig through boxes at the end of the already long day. Clothes, toiletries, medication, medical equipment and charging cords on hand will allow for a comfortable night and next morning.
Keep Track of Essentials
To help keep comfort levels up, maintain a regular routine, and prepare for the next day and week, essential items should be tracked down and unpacked early. Seniors and those with disabilities can set themselves up to be ready for the immediate future. They, and will feel better about the move if they know where the plates and silverware are when they want to eat, or where pillows and fresh sheets are when they want to get some sleep.
Medical equipment and disability aids should be either in the overnight bag, in the back of the moving truck, or in the car for immediate access. Someone in their 30’s without disabilities might do just fine after forgetting these essentials — however, seniors and people with disabilities might find themselves very uncomfortable, or even at the serious risk of exacerbating a medical condition.
Recognize and Mitigate Hazards
Not every box is going to be unpacked and out of the house on the first day. In fact, there may be several boxes in every room for quite some time, as it will take seniors and the disabled more time to sort out these boxes. The packing and unpacking process will be slow-going. To keep this process smooth, and to minimize the possibility of injury, it will help to understand and diminish the hazards that may materialize during the unpacking phase.
Packing and unpacking slowly will help alleviate and prevent physical exhaustion. Additionally, keeping clear paths through every room of the house can help reduce tripping hazards or wheelchair/walker obstructions. While this may not be something that most people will naturally think of, it is a critical consideration for seniors and the disabled.

Be Ready to Deal with Emotions
It may very well be the case that a move for a senior or person with a disability is done out of necessity, not by choice. It is not hard to imagine that negative emotions might surface when a person cannot take care of themselves anymore.
Seniors, disabled persons, and their loved ones can all do their part in helping to turn these feelings around. Make sure the person you’re caring for gets a fair amount of control over as many aspects of the move as is reasonable. This can help them maintain a sense of autonomy. Additionally, engage in regular talks about current feelings and fears of what may be to come. Help them begin to maintain a daily routine and become active in the new community. These steps can help a senior or person with disabilities gain some closure and can help alleviate feelings of loneliness while prompting them to be positive and look forward to their new life.
Create Jobs That Involve Everyone
To further facilitate feelings of independence and companionship, loved ones should include seniors and disabled persons in the moving process. To show that they have some say over everything that is happening, involve them in the planning process. If they can lift boxes or other moving duties, ask them to do so. If they can’t perform any lifting, have them sit and break down boxes to be recycled or other light tasks. Anything you can do to reinstate their feeling of autonomy can do wonders for their outlook.
Organizing in the New Space
In most moves, organizing the new living space may seem like the easiest, most fun part. However, for seniors and people with disabilities, organizing a new home can be a difficult. Disability accommodations and equipment will have to be strategically placed, and hazards will need to be mitigated. 
Considering where to put these things can be difficult for those going through this emotional time, and they may feel overwhelmed. While most people who are in the act of moving may spend some time determining where to put the living room houseplant, while those with disability and/or seniors will have to consider the more severe implications of placing medical equipment in the wrong place.
With the right information, you can help a loved one through this trying process. The more that you and your loved ones plan and prepare, the less stressful the move will be for everyone, allowing for more time spent enjoying the company of family, as opposed to moving their belongings.

Toby Parks, SRES
Realtor  Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Sponsor of the Tucson SPOTLIGHT Senior Services & Living Options Guide.  Call me and say “I saw you in SPOTLIGHT!”