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Moving or relocating is one of the most stressful life experiences you’ll face. For seniors and individuals living with a disability, the stress of moving can be complicated by the physical challenges of packing heavy boxes and moving furniture and learning to adapt to a new and unfamiliar environment.
If you or a loved one will be moving, this guide has been designed to help educate seniors, disabled adults, and/or their loved ones and provide the helpful information necessary to plan and execute a safe, well-organized, and stress-free move.
- Create a “Moving Timeline.” Working backward from the day of the move, set key milestones for all the tasks that will need to be completed such as:
- Making decisions regarding your belongings. Start deciding which items you will donate or sell, and which items you will bring with you (Six months prior).
- Hiring movers or coordinating with friends/family to assist (At least four months prior).
- Starting to pack (At least two months prior).
- Renting the moving van. (One month prior).
- Scheduling utility services. Make arrangements to have utilities turned on/off at your current and future properties (One month prior).
- Forwarding your mail (One month prior).
- Notifying contacts of your new address. This should include friends, family, financial institutions, and all healthcare professionals and caregivers (One month prior).
- Finishing packing all your boxes (At least one day prior).
- Determine When and Where Help Will Be Needed. If you are living with a mobility, vision, cognitive, or other disability or age-related condition, you’ll likely need assistance packing and moving, especially when it comes to heavy objects. Reach out early to friends, family, or neighbors and ask in advance for help packing, and/or loading items into the truck on moving day. Don’t try to do too much on your own. Your moving process will only become more stressful if you suffer an injury attempting to move heavy items unassisted.
- Consider Professional Assistance. Seniors and adults with physical disabilities, in particular, may benefit from the assistance of professional movers. Contact several local organizations at the start of your planning process to verify their availability and confirm you can afford their services as part of your moving budget (more on financial considerations later). Ideally, choose a moving service that has proven experience in moving seniors, or individuals with disabilities.
- Consider a Senior Moving Service. Today, a growing number of services are available to assist seniors with moving-related logistics. A senior move manager can help to coordinate your move from start to finish. Senior move managers are particularly experienced in assisting seniors with the emotional stress that can accompany a transition from a long-time family home to someplace new. Contact the National Association of Senior Move Managers for more information, or to find a local resource.
- Stay Organized by Keeping Move-Related Information in a Dedicated Notebook. Keep all important move-related information in a notebook, including contact information for the moving company, utility services, the timeline you created in step one, your budget (more on that later), and contact information for accessible health care facilities or providers, if needed during the move.
- Decide Which Items You’re Taking with You. For many individuals, especially older adults who have accumulated a lifetime of memories in their home, this process can feel most daunting and emotionally straining. Lean on family members and friends to help you decide what items you can, and should take with you, based on the space you’ll have available in your new home. When trying to decide if an item should be packed or parted with, ask yourself these questions:
- When was the last time I used this?
- Does this serve a valuable purpose, or make my day-to-day living easier?
- Do I own more than one of these, or an item that is similar that could serve the same purpose?
- Is this item irreplaceable, or does it have sentimental value?
- Can I get by without it?
- Is it in reliable shape/full working order?
- Could someone I know get more use out of it?
- Ask your loved ones if they could benefit from any furniture or belongings you won’t be taking. Other items may be sold at a garage sale or donated to an organization such as the Salvation Army, which often is able to assist with donation pick-ups.
- Pack Slowly and Methodically. After you decide what items you’re taking with you, packing can still feel overwhelming, especially if you are suffering from mobility, vision, or cognitive issues. If you will be coordinating any of the packing on your own, take your time, working slowly and carefully not to move any items that are too heavy for you to move without assistance. Start with the rooms that may have the most clutter, like the attic, basement, or storage closest, and pack first those items that you are least likely to need between now and move day. Label boxes as you work. If you suffer from memory or cognitive issues, ask for assistance. Set a goal to pack a small area, such as a set of drawers, or one closet, each day.
- Consider Putting Excess Furniture and Sentimental Items in Storage. If there are items that have strong sentimental meaning, but aren’t necessarily useful or needed right now, you might want to put them in a safe storage location. This way they are preserved for children or grandchildren, but aren’t weighing down your loved one’s move. You can choose a location near the old home or new home, depending on which makes more sense for your family.
- Make Decisions About Furniture. If you live with a disability, you’ve likely already made sure your new home will be accessible based on your needs. You’ll still need to make decisions regarding furniture and belongings. Based on the floor plan and square footage of your new home, determine what pieces of furniture you’ll be able to bring with you, and where each piece will go in your new living space. Furniture templates can help you make decisions about room layouts and furniture placements before you arrive at your new home, helping to mitigate the moving and re-moving of bulky furniture. Especially if you have vision or mobility issues, you’ll want to ensure your new home is clean, organized and free from trip-and-fall hazards as soon as possible after you arrive.
- Make Cleaning Arrangements. You’ll want to clean your current home after you’ve removed all your belongings and ensure your new home is clean before you settle in. Friends or family may be able to assist with day-of cleaning, or you may be able to hire a professional cleaning service—just be sure to coordinate in advance.
- Make Health Care Arrangements. If you’re relocating out of the area ask your doctors for referrals to new health care specialists, based on your treatment needs, and check if any of the specialist health services you currently receive can be transferred. You’ll want to make these arrangements a few months in advance so that if you are in need of health care soon after arriving, you’ll know where to go and any new providers will have your health history information on file.
- Identify Local Service Providers and Plan Ahead for Benefits. In advance of your move, identify what resources or available services exist in your new hometown for seniors or adults with disabilities and get any paperwork rolling early. The local housing authority or city government should be able to help you determine what you can apply for and how best to access the services available or you can use the Social Security Disability Planner to help navigate the move. Such services can help ease the uncertainty of day-to-day logistics until you settle into a new routine. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) travels with you no matter where you live in the US so you don’t have to worry about reapplying. You do however, have to make sure they know you have changed addresses. If you are moving long distance across state lines, the state benefits available may change based on what supplemental insurances the state or municipality offers.
- Pack a Suitcase. Even though you’ll be moving all of your important belongings, in the first 24 to 48 hours after you move you’ll want quick and convenient access to important belongings, such as toiletries, a few clean pairs of clothes, and any medications. Packing such items in a small overnight bag will help you feel settled on your first night and will help alleviate the stress of trying to find key personal items among a stack of boxes.
- Make Arrangements for You to Arrive Safely at Your New Home. Especially if you will be moving across the state—or country—you’ll need to make arrangements for how you will travel to your final destination. Just because your belongings are road tripping across the country by van doesn’t mean you need to travel with them. At the same time, a physical disability may make air travel uncomfortable or impossible. Talk to your doctor to determine what may be the best long-distance travel option for you. You may also want to ask a friend or family member to travel with you to ensure you’re safely able to manage travel logistics, especially if an unexpected travel delay or issue occurs.
- Make Arrangements for Pets. If you will be relocating with a pet or service animal, make sure to make arrangements for their travel. If you are relocating locally, they may need care the day-of the move while you coordinate logistics. If your pet is a service or emotional support animal, you’ll want to keep your pet with you during the move, so make sure you have a plan to keep them with you, and safe during the transition.
We are always here to answer your questions and help you and your family with your next move.
By: SpareFoot 11/2/2017 & Unpakt.com