Moving Transitions for Seniors

no place like home

Most of the time, people move to take a step forward in life.  You move from your parent’s house to your first apartment.  You move from your first apartment to another apartment, but this time with a significant other.  You move from that apartment to a larger one as newlyweds and finally into a house when you are expecting your first child.  Every step you take is a move toward something better – your future.

Sooner or later, you will most likely find yourself helping to move a Senior or you are that Senior.  And this time, it seems like your best life is being left behind.  More often than not, a Senior is moving because of a significant life event and unfortunately it is usually traumatic.  It could be the death of a spouse, a fall or an illness that basically takes the life out of you.  So, here you are, dealing with an unplanned, unwanted, distressful, painful and harrowing move with someone you love more than life itself.

This time, you are moving through grief or loss.  This move will be different than any other move you’ve ever done before.  Do you involve the Senior?  Do you do everything without them?  You want to toss every piece of junk they own because it would honestly be easier to just refurnish a new home for them, but there they are over your shoulder, reminding you of the memory that piece of junk has had on their life.

When dealing with death, how do you turn this negative life experience into something positive? In my experience, most woman are often more excited to “move on” than men are. We are still working with Seniors who grew up in that traditional home. The first home a woman moves into is the home after she is married.  So, the first time she is ever on her own is either because her husband needs a higher level or care, or he has died.  And while, everyone is mourning, it’s time to take a deep breath and celebrate the fact that this Senior is finally on her own!  In a new home that she can decorate and make her absolute own!  On the other hand, I have also found that moving on for a man can be much more difficult.  While they usually aren’t too concerned about the set – up or décor of their new home, they are worried about how to use the washing machine because they have never washed their own clothes in their 88 years!  It essentially is like dropping an eighteen-year-old off at college for the first time.

And while all of this is traumatic enough, we have not even touched on the emotional toll that this can take on Family.  This usually isn’t considered because we’ve all moved, probably several times in life and we put on auto pilot and get it done.  In this instance, you might find yourself arguing with your loved one or having them yell and scream at you.  They might feel that you are taking away their independence and haven’t yet comprehended that you trying to help make the safest decision for them.  This emotional exchange might last well past this move.  You are now associated with the “taking away,” even though you had the best interest at heart.  There is not harm in asking for help.  Allowing a professional to be that buffer between you and your loved one and pushing the blame towards them.

A move is not always negative. A supportive environment such as a Senior Living Community or even the amenities of a 55+ Community allow a measure of stress to be removed from a Senior’s life allowing them to thrive in ways they didn’t expect. Additionally, a move to a home that has been adapted and modified to increase independence and safety gives Seniors a new lease on life.  

Folks living with Dementia can be extremely overwhelmed in large environments and have decreased anxiety in smaller settings with less to navigate. While others with walkers and wheelchairs benefit from one level living, even surfaces, wide paths and entry ways created with equipment needs in mind.

Our homes become such a part of who we are making it hard to think that the physical environment we live in could actually be hindering us. Poorly lit areas, cluttered pathways, and the beautiful rugs accenting your home are an accident waiting to happen. Let’s not forget, bathrooms full of hazards and tight spaces that don’t allow for walkers, wheelchairs or a second person to assist a Senior.

According to the CDC, “Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.” While there are many factors that contribute to falls, creating a safe environment can eliminate risk factors. Many Seniors decide to move to a safer environment for this reason.

Our team at The Senior SPACE acknowledges the loss that can come along with a move, but also want to celebrate this new phase of life for our Seniors! We want to turn this life transition into a positive and continue to make aging easy and fun!  We created The Senior SPACE, Specialty Programs Aimed at Community Elders, to support and empower seniors and their families to foster independence, maintain quality of life and assist in life transitions.

Moving is a huge life transition!  There are years and years of cards, photos, paperwork, clothing, etc. that have been piled up and stashed away. The “one day I’ll get to it” day has finally come, and it can be extremely overwhelming. Families are tasked with cleaning out a space filled with memories and on top of that have to coordinate everything involved in moving their loved one.  

However, there is an easy solution to overcome this enormous undertaking! Allowing a third-party provider to assist in any move can be very beneficial.  An impartial person or team has no emotional attachment to anything involved in the move and can take this daunting task off of your hands.  From boxing everything up, moving furniture, disposing old furniture or household items and completely setting up and designing the new home can be done!  And this may be the perfect time to let a team design and create a new space allowing for a real fresh start for your loved one. This once daunting task is now smooth and effortless for the families and loved ones.  

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Kelly Stone, RN, Maura Watson, LE, LMT and Sarah Watson, MSW work at The Senior SPACE. Website:‍ Facebook: The Senior SPACE Instagram: @theseniorspace Email: