Support Your Parents Through Transition

Moving represents one of life’s biggest challenges, especially when a person has lived in the same home for many years.  Often a late-in-life move is necessitated by a decline in health or the death of a spouse.  Understandably, this can be a very difficult process.  The following are ways you can support your parent through the transition process to help ease stress and anxiety and ensure your relationship remains intact.

  1. Allow your parent to remain in charge.  Often we assume we are better decision makers or project managers than our parents.  As tempting as it is to “get in there and get it done” it is often more productive for the parent to remain in charge of decision making as much as possible.  Help him or her by assisting to make arrangements but allow your parent the opportunity to have a say.  Loss of control is a major contributor to stress in the move process.

  2. Be neutral about items your parent considers significant or important.  Things that have no apparent value or meaning to you may be very important to him or her.  If you can clearly see an item will not fit in the new space, a floor plan diagram is a good way to illustrate your point.  If its something small but your parent insists its important, it can always be downsized after the move if you can’t make it work in the new space.  Often when I am working with clients they would like to take everything no matter how unrealistic it may be.   But often they’ll go back and edit items as they move through their belongings and can see they are trying to take too much.

  3. Start the process early and don’t rush.  If there is downsizing to be done, consider starting well in advance of the move and doing a little at a time. This will allow your parent to ease into the transition and ensure he or she not get too tired or overwhelmed.

  4. Obtain as much information as possible about where he or she is moving to.  Visiting the neighbourhood, the senior’s residence or the new community will help your parent get used to the idea of living somewhere different.  If they are able to meet a few people where they are going, that will be even better.

  5. Acknowledge their fears, their concerns and their disappointment.  The  transition from a family home into other circumstances IS STRESSFUL for most people.  Don’t dismiss their feelings.  Point out the advantages of the move and let them know you are there to support them.

  6. Consider hiring a Transition Specialist to support you and your parent through the process.  Having a neutral third party involved will ensure you get from point A to point B with your wits intact.  Transition Specialists are no strangers to the role family dynamics can play in the move process.  Not only do they ensure everything gets done on time and with minimal fuss, they can provide you with the buffer you may need to allow you to effectively provide emotional support during the move process.