The following presentation, A Checklist for Helping Parents Move, offers ideas and suggestions for helping an elderly person who is moving. This is usually about an older person who is transitioning from an independent lifestyle to one in which more care is needed. Change is difficult for most people but moving from where one has lived (in many cases, for decades) to a new residence (that may be out-of-state and where he/she knows no one) can be especially difficult for an elderly person. Waves of vulnerability, loneliness, and uncertainty may wash over them. However, the transition can be made less daunting and even one of ‘new beginnings’ if there is tender, loving support and some planning. This presentation is part of “Caring for the Caregiver,” presented by Jane K. Toler, Ph.D., Facilitator.
Questions And Considerations
- Do you know your parents’ healthcare wishes for if/when they become incapacitated?
- Who is your parents Power of Attorney for legal, financial, and healthcare matters?
- Have you and your parents talked about expectations for things such as visits – e.g., how often and for how long?
- What are the housing options for your parents?
- If considering moving to a retirement community, tour the communities with your loved one.
- Is care-giving needed? If so, what type?
- If they are living in the same town, what happens when you go out of town?
- Will pets be involved in the move? If so, what kind of provisions need to be made for them?
Preparing For The Move
- Create a written list of contact names and numbers of physicians, dentists, pharmacies, legal and financial advisors, clergy and/or spiritual leaders/advisors, family, friends, and neighbors. Add to the list as the circle grows.
- Create a list of all medications, vitamins, herbs, etc. Be sure to keep it updated.
- Interview people/companies/agencies who can help with the move (e.g., organizing, downsizing, movers, etc.).
- Keep a list of organizations that can provide help and support (e.g., faith based, home health, hospice, meals).
- Keep the move upbeat – it can be considered an adventure.
- Be enthusiastic and encouraging.
- Know your parents’ hobbies and interests.
- Introduce them to places and people with similar hobbies and interests.
- Check out senior centers together.
- Find a place of worship – a place that suits your loved ones’ spiritual interests and needs.
- If your loved one is a veteran, check-in to the local VA system and community.
- Obtain a disability placard for your car (from Texas Department of Motor Vehicles).
Create A Team
- Create a list of everyone who is currently helping.
- Create a list of everyone who could play a role.
The List Of Team Members
This list may include:
- Faith community
- Paid or volunteer service providers who can help with meals, household, and pet care
- Healthcare providers including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists
- People with legal, financial, and technological expertise
Clarify roles and responsibilities
- Time limits
- Those who may be more hands-on
- Those who need/prefer to help from a distance
Types of Team Members
- The Big Picture Member – plans and looks at overall status.
- Team Leader – coordinates one big chunk – e.g., finances or healthcare.
- On-going “Interactors” – see loved ones on an on-going basis.
- Occasional contributors – take on special projects or emergencies.
- Task oriented achievers – do one thing at a time if you tell them what to do.
- Back-up players – are available if your plan goes awry.
In summary, asking, discussing, and honoring a parent’s desires and expectations about a move is most important and will reassure them that they have say and control about what is happening. Creating lists, planning, and organizing keeps the lines of communication open and fosters a sense of control. Being upbeat and showing encouragement and enthusiasm will help make the transition more of an adventure and something positive to anticipate. And, finally, get help. You can’t do it all by yourself and friends and family usually like to contribute in a way that is suitable to them and beneficial to you and your loved one.
About the Author
As a Licensed Professional Counselor and Supervisor, Dr. Jane Toler specializes in counseling individuals, couples, and families. She has navigated the caregiver journey in her own family, with clients, and with members of the group she facilitated, Caring for the Caregiver.
Dr. Toler earned her Ph.D. in Counseling from The University of North Texas and M.S. and B.A. degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has been in the mental health field since 1996. She has volunteered at the Suicide and Crisis Center in Dallas and is an affiliate of the Stepfamily Association of America, now known as the National Stepfamily Resource Center.