How to Manage the Emotions in a Senior Citizen Move

By Staff

When a senior moves, it's hard for everyone involved: the kids, who will want to help out and deal with any trauma associated with the move. And the seniors themselves, who might be grieving at the thought of leaving a place they've called home for decades. 

Try to understand what your parents are going through. "Adult children need to realize what a vulnerable position their parents are in when they move from their life-long home," says Nancy Pelham, a Dallas professional organizer and owner of Helping Hands Personal Service.

"They're having to let go of very meaningful things" – and it's not just things, but also dear friends and family.

A senior move can be difficult on everyone involved, and emotions can become intense.

"Sometimes things get testy," says Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers. "The adult child has a million other things (he or she) needs to be doing."

Siblings might be competing for a piece of furniture or family heirlooms the parent is passing along, and one sibling might resent another sibling's lack of effort on planning the move. Avoid making the experience more difficult for your parents by putting aside these childish rivalries.

It takes seniors longer than it would younger adults to sort through their possessions and decide what to keep and what to get rid of – they have more stuff, and more of their stuff has emotional baggage, so it can take longer to make decisions.  Get this done before the moving companies show up.

Emotional Support:
Don't downplay your parents' feelings of sadness or anxiety about letting go of their former life. However, it can be helpful to remind them of how much easier their life is going to be in the new place.

"Help them see why or how they will be benefiting," Pelham says.

Rather than trying to rush your parents along when packing, use the time to share stories and reminisce about their items. This will make the moving process emotionally easier, and probably make it go faster too.