What to Expect When Moving Your Elderly Parent
You and Dad have made the decision that moving to a senior living residence makes sense for him, and you’ve picked out a community that you both like. Now that you’re starting the actual process of moving, however, you’re both experiencing the emotional side of moving a senior. That’s normal. Here’s what your father might be feeling as you gear up for the move, during the move itself, and after he gets settled in his new home.
Before the Move
Even though he’s chosen to move to a senior living residence, your dad may be concerned that he’s giving up his independence. Listen to his fears and concerns as he works through his emotions. At this stage, he might feel:
- The move might be a smart and timely decision, but that doesn’t mean your dad won’t mourn the loss of his younger years or feel wistful about the home that he’s lived in since you were a child. Give him time to grieve this major life change, and be there to talk him through questions and concerns about the move.
- Your father may harbor some resentment that he’s moving, especially if he considers this move to be the last of his life. Help keep his stress and anger at bay by making sure he has all the say that he wants when it comes to coordinating the move. This will make him feel more comfortable and in control as you’re working through plans.
During the Move
The trauma that most people experience during a major move has a name—Relocation Stress Syndrome (RSS)—and it can generate symptoms that include exhaustion, trouble sleeping, disorientation, anxiety, and more. Due to his age, Dad may be more affected by the stress than you. In addition, he may feel:
- Sorting through decades’ worth of possessions is one of the more emotional sides of moving seniors, so expect Dad to grow sentimental. It’s important to make sure that his new home, while limited on space, contains his most treasured items. If he’s truly torn on whether or not to keep an item, hang onto it until after the move—and decide what to do with it later. Enlist the help of a senior moving specialist if you find that downsizing Dad’s things is more of a struggle than you anticipated.
After the Move
Now that Dad is all moved in, it will typically take a while—experts cite an average period of three to six months—for him to get adjusted to his new living situation.
- Whether Dad is worried that he won’t be able to make new friends or find his way around his new home, feeling scared is completely natural. After all, moving is a major life transition for anyone—not just for seniors.
Lonely. Once your father is all moved in, set a realistic expectation of how often he can expect you to visit. If Dad is more introverted, suggest he get to know the other residents in the first few weeks by participating in structured activities offered by the community. You may want to visit often, but keep in mind that the more you see Dad during the first few weeks, the less he’ll integrate fully into the community.
Learn how to help your parent make a successful move. The senior living experts at Life Care Services are available to offer suggestions, tips, and support when you need it.