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What Challenges Do Older Adults Face When Moving?

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Close-up of senior couple downsizing, packing things to bring into the new home.

Moving can often be challenging regardless of your age, but the process can be particularly challenging for older adults. Physical limitations, emotional difficulties, downsizing, finances, and finding the right community can all be challenges an older adult faces when moving.

The transition to a new home, whether it’s a smaller house, an independent living community, or an assisted living community, can be fraught with difficulties and obstacles. Instead of simply looking at the difficulties an older adult may face, we’d also like to provide some helpful tips for navigating the process with grace and success.

Challenges Older Adults Face When Moving

There isn’t an easy answer for the perfect move. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, a perfectly smooth move may not exist. But, an individual may be better prepared by looking ahead to the potential difficulties they might encounter.

Health & Physical Limitations

A significant challenge that many older adults face when moving is limited mobility and declining physical strength. There are several reasons a senior could have physical limitations, whether it’s a health condition that prevents strenuous activity or perhaps a previous injury that has never quite healed.

A senior may also have a harder time recovering from injuries that occur during a move. For example, falls during packing or lifting can result in broken bones, which can have severe consequences for an older adult’s health.

Emotional Difficulty

Another major challenge that older adults can face when moving is the emotional toll it can take. Older adults may feel sad about leaving their home or community, or anxious about starting fresh in a new space. They might be leaving behind cherished memories, friends, and neighbors, making the process more challenging. An abrupt change in environment can be difficult for anyone, but particularly for those who struggle with change or require more time to adjust.

There isn’t an easy formula to not feeling sad about moving, especially for an older adult who potentially spent many, many years in a home and has some of their most cherished memories there. From a caregiver or family member’s perspective, it’s important to give your loved one the time they need to adjust—and maybe help them figure out a way to transport some of those memories with them—such as with pictures or small memorabilia.

Downsizing, Storing, or Selling Possessions

The emotional difficulty of moving brings another challenge: reducing the belongings older adults own. On one hand, it’s important for a senior to bring along treasured possessions that carry their memories, but there may be far less space for everything when a senior is moving from a large family home into a smaller home or a senior community.

The process of downsizing can be emotionally taxing, especially for those who are reluctant to let go of sentimental items. More importantly, older adults may need to secure storage for remaining items or sell them, which can add another layer of stress. 

In some cases, there may be specialized moving services that offer assistance with downsizing and storage in addition to the physical move. 

Financial Issues

Older adults on a budget may find it tough to move because of the associated costs. Moving expenses such as movers, packing materials, transportation, and storage can quickly add up, putting a significant financial burden on tight budgets. The added expense of updating a new home or installing new items and equipment like stairlifts, handrails, and wheelchair ramps for safer mobility may also deter seniors.

Many times, a senior can turn to friends and loved ones for assistance during a move, which can help save money on needing to hire people. One alternative option to having to outfit a new home with any specialized items or equipment would be joining a senior living community where those forms of support already exist.

Finding Appropriate Choices

When older adults are prepared to transition to a new space, finding appropriate options that suit their mobility and access needs, lifestyle, and healthcare requirements is vital. The amount of research and planning necessary can also add stress, as choosing the wrong living arrangement could have negative consequences.

Suitable options for your lifestyle, mobility, and support needs are essential, whether it’s independent living, assisted living, or another option. Visiting and researching all prospective options in detail can be time-consuming but worth the effort—and helps prevent any negative outcomes.

Group of seniors sitting around a couch laughing.

Plan Ahead & Book a Community Tour

Seniors may experience some or all of the challenges above during a move. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize those challenges or prevent them from becoming a problem. And if they cannot be avoided, there are often supports available to assist with moving.

With the proper planning and execution, seniors can move onto a new chapter of their lives with peace of mind and reduce the physical and mental stress that comes with transitioning to a new home.

Part of that planning may eventually include visiting potential senior living communities. At Parsons House Austin, we’re dedicated to serving our elders, nurturing personal growth, and offering unconditional support to help seniors celebrate their lives. 

Contact us to book a tour and learn more. 

Written by Parsons House Austin

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