By Allison Bisbey Colter
Special to Relocation.com
Helping seniors adjust to a new place and feel at home can begin even before they move by ensuring they find a community that's liveable.
That means they can get to where they want in a variety of ways, so they won't have to move again once they stop driving.
If they're moving into a house, it should have a room on the main floor that's adaptable to use as a bedroom once stairs become difficult to navigate.
Once seniors have selected the new place, they should come by to visit and get accustomed to the new environment. This will also give them a chance to get to know their new roommate, friends or neighbors.
Setting up the new space to look like the old place can help make it feel familiar. Nancy Pelham, a Dallas professional organizer and owner of Helping Hands Personal Service, recommends taking digital photos of the old home. "If a stranger is helping parents move, they may be great at unpacking, but don't know where a special china plate goes," she says.
On moving day, try to avoid any safety hazards, either packing or unpacking. Make sure there is a clear aisle to walk between boxes. You don't want to leave area rugs rolled up for long, because they are a tripping hazard. Likewise, watch out for lamp and phone cords that are not hooked up and out of the way. Remove boxes as soon as they are empty and keep the areas well lit.
Pelham says it's important to get seniors' bedroom and bathroom set up as quickly as possible. "You don't want leave them stranded with a bunch of boxes, and everyone's already decamped."
People should also make sure seniors eat the day of the move; in the hectic commotion, they may forget.
If the move is going to take more than one day, arrange for a place for the elder person to stay. Lots of retirement communities have guest rooms. Make sure that he or she has any needed medications as well as a change of clothes.
After the Move
Once seniors are unpacked, go through the house or apartment and make sure they understand how to operate the thermostat, alarms and other features. Help them transfer phone and electricity, if necessary, as well as any prescriptions.
If they haven't already visited the new facility, help familiarize them with any rules or regulations as well as any activities that are available.
Your Next Move: Helping a Senior Citizen Downsize to a New Home
The Relocation Guide to Choosing a Moving Company
Allison Bisbey Colter is a freelance writer in New Jersey whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal and American Banker. She is a former editor at TheStreet.com and a former reporter for Dow Jones Newswires.