article by Jim Vogel of ElderAction.org

Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, moving is never a fun process. And when you’re a senior citizen moving out of a family home, there’s decades of belongings and memories to wrangle with on top of the ordinary stresses of moving. But a late-life move can be manageable when you tackle it strategically. Here’s how:

Downsize

Most relocating seniors are moving to a smaller home than the one they raised their family in, so downsizing is crucial to make sure belongings will fit comfortably into a new home. Besides, no one wants to move items they’ll only end up throwing away.

Start by clearing out unused rooms like the childhood bedrooms of adult children, then move onto belongings that haven’t been used in a year or more. Once the house has been cleared of obvious excess, determine what furniture will fit into the new home. The best strategy is to keep a floor plan of the new home on hand, complete with room dimensions, and refer to it frequently. A floor plan can help with deciding everything from whether to bring the oversized recliner to where artwork and family photos can be hung. It also allows you to tell the movers exactly where to drop off unwieldy large items so you don’t have to deal with them on your own.

Label, Label, Label

Labeling is the number one key to a smooth relocation. Every box should be labeled on the top and one side at minimum, but the more labeled surfaces, the better. Note what a box contains as well as where it should go in your new home. If you’re working with professional movers, take special care to create a labeling system that’s easy to read and understand.

Attend to the Details

When you’re preparing for a move, take time to attend to administrative details before the movers arrive. Mail forwarding can take a couple of weeks after submitting a change of address form to the USPS, so be sure to update your address ahead of time or open a PO box if you don’t want to risk mail delays. Update your address with the companies you do business with, like insurance companies, doctor’s offices, and banks. Send a note to family members letting them know about your move and your new mailing address.

Board Your Pets

If you have pets, consider boarding them or bringing them to a trusted family member before the heavy lifting begins. If you’re hiring a moving company, new people could make your pets anxious, and open doors leave them vulnerable to escape.

Set Aside Essentials

It’s always a good idea to get started on the packing process early, and it’s especially true for seniors who may not have the energy they once did. However, you don’t want to end up needing something only to realize it’s at the bottom of a packed and sealed box. Go room by room and note the items you use on a regular basis and set those things aside to be packed last. Be sure to include essential cookware and dishes, towels, toiletries, and clothing. You’ll appreciate having the basics readily available when you settle into your new abode.

To make your move truly stress-free, let professionals handle all the hard labor. A moving company can supply the packing materials, pack your items securely (even the fragile ones), and load, deliver, and unload your belongings. When you let professional movers handle the bulk of the work, you can focus on making your new house feel like home.

Image by Nicolas Huk

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