Moving House with Elderly Relatives

Moving House with Elderly Relatives
If you’re fortunate enough to have elderly parents who don’t need a lot of medical care, you might be considering living with them so that you can give them any extra support they need while maintaining their independence. Perhaps you’re thinking of moving to a larger house with a ‘granny annex’ or just extra rooms so that you can all be under one roof.

There are a few things to consider if you’re moving house with elderly relatives to ensure that the move goes smoothly and with as little stress as possible.

1. Dealing with all the extra belongings

If the plan is to sell your house and your parents’ house to buy somewhere together, there will be an awful lot of possessions, furniture and furnishings to deal with. Although you’re moving to a larger house, you’ll need to treat it as though you’re downsizing because your new home won’t be as large as the two smaller properties put together. You won’t need two dining tables, for instance!

Take stock of what major items of furniture you own. If there are any beds, wardrobes, sofas etc that have seen better days, earmark those for sale, donation to charity or recycling depending on their condition. Remember that you’ll probably need to use those items right up to moving day even if you’re not planning to take them with you. 

Rather than disposing of them before the move, then having to sleep on air mattresses or live out of packing boxes, consider renting a self storage unit to keep those items until you have time to arrange for charities to collect them or to sell them online. If you choose a self storage store near to your new home, you could ask your removals company to move some items to your unit and the rest to your new house on moving day.

You could also use your unit for furniture and belongings you or your parents want to keep but have no room for in your new home. It might be difficult for your parents to let go of their furniture and furnishings while losing some of their independence (as they might see it), so keeping the items ‘for later’ might make this process easier. Plus, those excess belongings might prove to be useful when your children move out or to replace items as and when they break.

Have a look at our other pages and advice on downsizing for more ideas.

2. Decluttering personal possessions 

Your parents will no doubt have a lifetime of possessions stored here, there and everywhere in their home. This can be a very sensitive and difficult thing to tackle because belongings that have a lot of sentimental value can be difficult for people to let go of. Your elderly parents will have a lot to cope with emotionally when moving in with you - they may feel aggrieved or upset that they can no longer safely live independently, or they may not want to feel like they’re burdening you. 

If they’ve lived in their home for a long time, moving may be a wrench, saying goodbye to their home, garden, neighbours and local community. Letting go of personal possessions may be too much to cope with on top of all of that. Again, arranging to store them in a self storage unit might ease this transition, and when you’re all settled in your new home, you can decide what will fit and what could be disposed of, distributed amongst other family members, or sold.

You’ll need to be patient and understanding, and this can be very difficult when facing the stresses of your own house move! 

If there are any belongings that could be digitised, such as photo albums, doing this could be a great way to save space but preserve those memories.

3. Accept that things will take time

If you’ve made the decision to move in with your parents because they’re struggling to live on their own, remember that they’re likely to also struggle with the practicalities of moving house. They’re likely to find moving house difficult physically - you’ll no doubt do much of the physical lifting (or can arrange a removal company to do so) but even packing boxes can be tiring. 

As your parents find belongings that they haven’t seen for a while, they’ll no doubt want to reminisce and take time to consider whether to take those belongings or not. Packing will take longer than it will for you, and it’s important not to rush them or this may cause difficulties in your relationship as you move in together.

4. Remember that your parents are still adults

It can be easy to fall into the habit of treating your elderly parents like children because when moving house in these circumstances, you’ll be the one organising things and taking charge. Your parents may take more time than you’d like, or they might disagree with you, and your instinct might be to override them and become bossy or make assumptions. 

Delegate helpful tasks to them that they can achieve independently, and ‘ask rather than tell’ when communicating ideas and things that need to be done. Things your parents could do to help in a practical way might include deciding which rooms to pack first, labelling boxes, or supervising your children/pets while you pack.

5. Manage the transition to a new place

If your parents have lived in their home or neighbourhood for a long time, moving to a new house and area can be really daunting. They may not have the same opportunities as you do (through school contacts, work or socialising) to make new friends and connections. 

Provide contact details for your new home to help them keep in touch with their old friends and neighbours. Arrange regular days when they can visit or attend their old social groups if that’s practical. If they have a hobby, like bowls or whist, find out what amenities or clubs there are near your new home. 

6. Practical things to do when moving house with elderly parents

If you’re moving away from the area, your parents will need to be registered at your new local GP. You’ll need to find out the surgery’s requirements for registering new patients and complete any necessary paperwork with your parents if they need some help.

It’s also important to register them with a local dentist, and make sure you’re aware of local support for elderly people including clinics and hospital details should they need them in future.

7. Look after your own mental health

Moving house can be hugely stressful, even without the added complication of managing your parents’ house move too. Ask friends and family for support with practical things like packing so that you have time to do things only you can do - like notifying your utility companies of the move, arranging for your post to be forwarded to your new address etc.

If you think that renting a self storage unit for a few weeks will help, get in touch and one of our friendly team members can give you all the information you need about our unit sizes and costs. 

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