I received the call on a Friday evening. Ally was calling from Tennessee and she wondered if I could help. Her mom, Beth, was being released from the hospital and her doctor ordered that she not go back to her 1 bedroom apartment in an assisted living facility. After several falls and recovered broken bones the doctor felt it was time for this 82 year old woman to have more care.
Ally planned to arrive the following Monday to assist with her mom’s move to the small care home where she would downsize to a room with an ensuite. Ally could only stay three days, on account of her work commitments.
The anxiety and frustration in her voice that she was so far away carried through the phone as well as her feelings of responsibility for her mom’s welfare.
Adult children have always worried about aging parents, but we live in a unique societal situation. Never before have so many adult children lived so far away from the older parents they love. We are scattered across the world living hurried, scheduled lives.
Ally came for the 3 days that she had available and we worked the miracle of settling her mother into her new place with her most treasured possessions. It was a stressful time for mother and daughter. Mom was not in agreement with the doctor’s orders and Ally knew her mom needed the extra care.
In this kind of situation, the best way to go about the move is:
- Assure your parents that you love them and are working in their best interest.
- Make a list of their treasured items-go over the list and decide what items will fit into the new space.
- draw up a floor plan to show your loved one what will fit in and where it will go
- Reassure your loved one that the items that don’t fit will be taken care of by a family member or stored in a safe place. This is not the time to argue about letting go. The emotional upheaval in this type of situation puts everyone in a tenuous position. Keeping the atmosphere as calm as possible is of utmost importance.
- Arrange for a senior move manager in your area to have every item that is going with your loved one moved and settled into their new space before their arrival.
- If you must do this by yourself, you will likely be physically as well as emotionally overdone. If there is no senior move manager available, call on other family members and friends to pitch in to make this happen. When your loved one arrives, they are able to better accept their new situation if they can they see their favorite things all set up. Make the bed, do not have messy boxes piled high. In most cases I have witnessed there is a calmness, an acceptance, and an “I can do this ” attitude as they look around.
As Ally wheeled her mom into the new suite I saw a faint smile as she admired how her favorite treasures fit in so nicely. “Oh, look, my bed fits in fine,” she said.
The aging parent cannot imagine how they can ever move and they are overwhelmed with just the thought of it. Lifting them out of their place and settling them in their new, set-up space works wonders. This method works very well for families whose loved one must be moved quickly for health reasons.
Ally and her mom were so relieved. Ally flew home knowing that her mom was settled into a safe environment with her most treasured things. The phone calls and emails between Ally, her mom, and myself over the next few weeks made the rest of the cleaning out of the apartment less stressful for mother and daughter.
Yes, there were moments when Ally’s mom grieved about having to rightsize for her new space and let go. The benefit is that she didn’t have to be in the middle of all the confusion. It made her transition smoother and less drawn out.
Through such a process we must make a sincere effort to keep our loved one’s dignity and respect intact. Ally has stated several times to me how the part I played in the move kept her and her Mom’s relationship from unraveling. The emotional stress involved in this type of move is very high in both parties – the adult child and the aging parent. Hiring a third party such as a senior move manager can help keep the emotional fireworks at bay when a sudden move is needed.