Coordinating a Long-Distance Senior Move

shutterstock_48807916If you have elderly parents or loved ones who live far away, you may decide to relocate them to a senior living community closer to you when the time comes. Moving an elderly parent, especially one who requires a cross-country move, is a challenge. The tips in this guide will help simplify this transition and make things easier on everyone involved.

Find the Right Movers

Getting professional help is the best option, especially when trying to organize a long-distance move. Begin by researching reputable moving companies in your parent’s city. You can seek referrals from your loved one’s neighbors, local care facilities, and nearby senior centers. Once you narrow down your list, start calling companies and ask them to go out and give an in-home estimate. Remember to ask for a breakdown of how they calculate their charges. Ask about any hidden costs for items such as extra materials and travel time. Find out the exact date and time your loved one’s new residence will be available so that the movers do not have to store their belongings. You can also save money by moving your parent during the week rather than on the weekend.


More than likely, your parent will move to a smaller residence than the size of their current home—one that cannot accommodate all of their possessions. Such a move will necessitate some downsizing. If you can’t physically make the trip to their home, consider Skyping with your parent to assist in this process. Work from the least-utilized rooms to the ones most frequented and help them sort items into piles labeled keep, store, donate, and toss. Remember, your loved one not only has to say goodbye to a home but to a lifetime of cherished memories and close neighbors as well. Try to stay calm when figuring out what to move to their new home and remind yourself how hard this process is for them.

Start Packing

shutterstock_80709910If you cannot be present to help with the packing portion of the move either, consider finding a company to assist your loved one with this process as well. In some areas, specialized companies will help organize a senior’s move to a new location by packing and arranging to sell (or give away) nonessential items. A variety of online packing services also cater to seniors such as Caring Transitions and Gentle Transitions. However, don’t entrust anyone aside from your loved one with the packing and moving of valuables, including family heirlooms, jewelry, and fragile keepsakes. This will ensure that your parent’s treasures don’t get inadvertently lost or broken during the move.

Take Inventory

Knowing what your parent has prior to the move helps keep things organized as items start coming off the moving truck. Have a third party, such as a neighbor or close friend of your loved one, take inventory of all their boxes, pieces of furniture, and electronics before the movers load everything into the truck. Then, you can use the list when the truck arrives at the new community to ensure that everything arrives safely. Also, help your parent decide if they should repurchase certain items such as older electronics and bulky furniture since these items may prove more expensive to move than to replace.

Sketch the New Space

Prior to the move, head to your parent’s new community and sketch a layout of their space. This will help determine which items stay and which go, depending on the dimensions of the residence. The sketch will also help the movers know what goes where when they arrive, eliminating any extra moving you or your loved one would have to do afterward.

Notify Important Companies

shutterstock_357394994Any move requires the notification of what seems like an endless amount of providers, but a cross-country move necessitates even more communication. The obvious companies include changing addresses with the USPS, in addition to canceling utility and cable providers. But when moving an elderly loved one to a new state, you also must remember to notify doctors to transfer medical records, verify that their insurance company will provide out-of-state coverage, and move any existing wills/trusts to local entities.

After the move, try to have your loved one as situated as possible on their first night in the new community. With their belongings around them instead of still in boxes, they’ll immediately have an easier time adjusting to their new home.

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