The Lighter Moves Transition Kit
1. Plan Ahead and Start Now.
If you have the luxury of time, think about beginning to declutter before a move is on the near horizon. Six months or a year prior to moving is not too early to start this process, regardless of where you are planning to move, or even if you are still deciding. You'll be surprised at how much you can eliminate before you get into the emotional quandaries of dealing with prized possessions.
2. Determine your goals and timeframe/make calendar.
Try to dedicate blocks of time on a regular basis.
3. Have patience and empathy.
Be patient and allow time at this stage for you to talk about memories, to reminisce about family activities or relatives no longer with you, to acknowledge emotions. This can be a nice opportunity to remember the stories and incidents that are part of your history and that make each family unique.
4. Create an important document folder.
Collect and keep together important papers: deeds, wills, Durable Powers of Attorney, medical records, military records, diplomas and degrees, birth certificates, passports.
5. Get the family involved.
This is the time to designate items to be given to specific people. Let them choose items and make a list. Try not to allow grown children to use the home as a storage unit or museum. They need to claim their keepsakes—old sports trophies, CDs, posters, school projects--and remove them from their parent's house.
6. Avoid tackling the whole house in one go.
Tackle one room or area at a time and start with the simplest room first.
7. Have sorting tools ready to go.
Be ready with aprons, boxes, bins, sharpies, bags, stickers, post-it notes.
8. Keep sorting sessions short.
Try to keep sorting sessions to around two hours.
9. Create a floorplan for the new space.
Measure furniture and exactly how much closet or cabinet space the new place has (assisted living communities will provide this information if you ask). Make decisions on what to take based off the available space.
10. Decide on what “go” means.
It may sound silly, but “this goes” can mean you are getting rid of it or taking it with you. To avoid confusion, decide what “go” means and use it consistently.
11. Avoid the need for a dumpster.
Through use of family, friends, donation sites, recycling and upcycling options, selling options, and junk removal services, the goal is to avoid the need for a dumpster.
12. Banish the “maybe” pile.
Relocation experts call it the OHIO rule: Only handle it once. It’s Keep, Sell, Donate, or Dispose. Use colored tags or stickers to indicate in which category items belong, e.g., blue = keep (goes with you), green=sell (on your own or through service), yellow=donate, other color= family or friend item.
13. Save the photos and paperwork until later.
These are the two exception to the OHIO rule – put all the photos and paperwork aside for now. Piecing through these can bog down your momentum during the day, but can be thoughtfully looked through during evening quiet time. If you are not sure what documents to keep, ask an accountant or tax person what records need to be retained, and then shred the rest.
14. Focus on most-used items (and let the rest go).
Be patient and follow yours or your parent’s use of items — what seems old and useless to you may be a source of great comfort and joy and therefore worth moving. Newer does not equal better.
15. Pack representative bits of favored items (not the whole kit and kaboodle).
Photos, memorabilia, and collections typically take up far more space than the average assisted-living quarters can accommodate. Many services digitize images and papers for you for reasonable prices.
Pick key prints to display on the walls; large tabletop displays take up too much precious space.
16. Cull a collection by asking, “Which is your favorite piece?”
Assure that one or two “best” items can have a highlighted location in the new home. Take photos of the rest of a collection and present them in a special book. No, it’s not exactly the same as owning, but it’s a space-saving way for a collector to continue enjoying.
17. If it’s meant to be a gift or legacy, encourage giving it now.
Do not wait for the next holiday, birthday, or other milestone to bestow; Ask, “Why not enjoy the feeling of giving right now?”
18. Think twice before selling items on your own.
Craigslist, eBay, Front Porch Forum, and other self-selling options can be time-consuming when you’re selling individual items and trying to process a houseful of goods. There are services available for easy selling and liquidating.
19. If there are several items of high value, consider an appraisal.
Go through the entire house; the appraiser will only come out once and is more interested in relatively large lots. Check with the auction houses, antique dealers, and consignment shops.
20. Understand how donation and recycling sites work.
The main donation outlets include Goodwill, ReSource, and Habitat for Humanity. There are also several agencies and faith-based donation sites, such as the Salvation Army. Check in with each organization to see what items they take or do not take.
21. Target recipients for specialty items.
It’s time-consuming to find willing recipients for everything, but it may be worth the effort for items that you would be relieved to see in a good home. Examples: Schools may welcome musical instruments, old costumes, or tools. Auto repair shops and community maintenance departments may take tools and yard tools.
22. Try the “free books” tactic.
In some communities, setting items on the curb with a sign that says “Free! Help yourself!” will make items miraculously disappear. This works great for books. Posting free items on Front Porch Forum is another option.
23. For a price, you don’t have to haul it away yourself.
Services like 1-800-Got-Junk will take everything away, and smaller local junk dealers may haul things away for free if they see items that they’ll be able to sell.
For a free consultation with a Senior Move Manager at Lighter Moves, call (802) 595-5550
2 Months Before Move
Finalize arrangements with new residence
Decide on moving date
Start a separate notebook just for the move. Keep it with you, and whenever you think of something—anything at all related to the move—write it down. Include to-do lists, a calendar/timeline, things you're likely to forget, questions about the new residence, floor plans. Even anecdotes or historical notes about possessions, or offhand remarks like "Oh, Aunt Judy would love this tea set." Although the notebook may not be particularly orderly, at least you'll know where to find the information.
Start a folder/box for all important documents
Obtain floor plan for new residence
Take measurements of furniture proposed for new residence and make a preliminary layout
Change of address with USPS
Gather packing supplies
Rent storage space if needed
Begin sorting and deciding what to “Keep, Gift, Sell, Donate, Recycle, or Dispose”
Take photos of items to disburse
Take photos of current set-up to recreate setup in new residence
Contact Moving companies and get quotes
Contact Senior Move Management service for assessment and quote
Contact insurance agent to update or cancel homeowners or renters policy
1 Month Before Move
Finalize arrangements and contract with movers – ensure insurance for lost or damaged items
Schedule disconnect or transfer of utilities –
Phone Internet Cable Electric
Gas Water Garbage
Notify all physicians/ask for referrals is needing new ones
Begin packing non-essential items
Label packed boxes by room and contents
Separate valuable items you will transport yourself
Print new checks with new address
Transfer or cancel magazine and newspaper subscriptions
Notify these services about change of address
Family and Friends Insurance Credit card companies
Social Security Administration Banks State Vehicle Registration
State and Federal Tax Bureau Pharmacy/prescription delivery program
2 Weeks Before Move
Confirm movers (date, time, pricing, number of personnel on hand, payment details)
Have someone assigned to meet the movers at the new residence. Be sure they have a key! If this is a facility, be sure the manager is expecting you.
Continue packing – make sure boxes are clearly labeled
Make sure all prescriptions are filled
Take pictures of furniture and note any damages on an inventory sheet
Start to use up food from refrigerator, freezer, pantry
Dispose of any hazardous waste properly– paint, propane, gasoline, etc.
1 Week Before Move
Create a schedule for moving day
Have a screwdriver, wrench, pliers, tape, etc. handy
Set aside any boxes you’re moving yourself - Pack other important items that you'll keep with you during the move: new lease or residence contract, keys, medications, legal documents, checkbook, cell phone, address book, first-aid kit, extra cash, your relocation notebook. Label this container. Valuables such as jewelry should be in a safe-deposit box unless items are worn regularly.
Pack an “Open First” box with items that will be needed immediately. The contents are typically for setting up sleeping accommodations and the bathroom and include items such as fresh bedding, soap, toilet paper, toothpaste & toothbrush, comb, nightclothes, towel, one change of clothes, and flashlight.
If applicable, arrange for you or your loved one to stay with a friend or family member the night before the move, and/or ask a friend or family member to take your loved one out to lunch on moving day. It may be easier for you/them to avoid watching the movers load the truck and drive away.
Remove bedding and take bed(s) apart
Pack remaining food you want to move
Take movers through the house and inform them of what to do
Check each room for things left behind
Remove all trash
Turn off appliances and lights
Verify utilities work at new home
Assemble bedding and set-up bedroom and bathroom first at new residence
Unpack kitchen, living room, and other essential spaces
If pets are involved, be sure to have a plan for them to be moved and accommodated in the new home.
For the first few weeks after the move, keep an eye on yourself (or your elderly loved one). Alert the staff about any difficulty adjusting, as this could be Relocation Stress Syndrome.
If your elderly loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s or Dementia the moving process could be particularly challenging. The goal should be to make the new apartment as close to their previous home as possible to reduce stress and confusion. Taking pictures is an easy way to help you recreate living spaces from the old home. When unpacking, prioritize the bedroom and make sure this is fully set up as soon as possible.
Moving can be a long, arduous process. Our certified senior move managers can provide compassionate guidance and management for your transition.
Develop a customized move plan
Help sort all belongings for keep, gift, sell, donate, recycle, and dispose
Customize floor plans for your new home
Provide professional packing service
Unpack your items in your new home
Arrange for disbursement and shipping of belongings to your children, grandchildren or other destinations anywhere in the U.S.
Arrange for storage, if necessary
Arrange for 3rd party services for selling, donating, and disposing of items
For more information or to receive your FREE MOVE CONSULTATION
Tips for Family Members
Whether you're helping older adults move to a retirement home or helping them move into your own home or downsizing to a smaller place, take extra care and try to consider the following tips when supporting them through what can often be a difficult move.
1. Get Them Involved
To the extent possible, discuss options with your senior and let them tell you what would be important to them. Allow them to ask questions, voice concerns. Honor the senior’s preferences and allow them to maintain some control over their transition. If you have access to the new home, take your parents there, introduce them to the new space. Do this on their own time, when they're ready. Let them tell you how they'd like it to look and make a plan to prepare the space accordingly.
2. Be Kind
Being kind may seem like a given. When helping to sort and pack their things, keep in mind that their eyesight and an inability to do everything they used to do can result in poor housekeeping habits. Offer to clean as you pack and try not to criticize. Remember that it's difficult to change the older we get and moving is a huge change for everyone. Be patient. Ask how they're feeling and let them know that you're there to help.
3. Be Patient
Allow your parents time to say goodbye. If they take longer to clean out the desk drawer because of a stack of pictures they found, let them take the time to remember. This is a very important part of the process. Be patient. Listen to their stories. This can be a nice opportunity to remember the stories and incidents that are part of your history and that make each family unique.
4. Obtain a Room Layout of their New Place
Find out before you move, how much space the new place has. If your parents are moving from a three-bedroom house to a one-bedroom condo, then together you'll need to decide what will fit and how much can be kept. Offer to keep the pieces they can't move or try to keep them in the family if possible.
5. Give Them Time
If possible, allow enough time that your parents don't feel rushed. Sorting through years of stuff is difficult and sometimes emotionally painful. Give them time to absorb the change.
6. Safe Guard Their Personal Possessions
Help make a safe folder and/or box for items they might be stresses about losing track of : important documents, medications, jewelry, and other valuables.
7. Help Sort
Like all of us, seniors tend to keep things they don't necessarily need or will ever use. Be gentle when suggesting to get rid of possessions. Ask them if they use the item and if they would mind if you donate it. If it's a treasure or something they'd like to keep, but the new space can't accommodate it, suggest keeping it in the family by giving it to a grandchild or another sibling. It's often easier to give away items if they're going to a good home.
8. Take Pictures of the Inside of Their Home
As close as possible, try to place objects in a similar way so that their new home will feel much like the old one. Be as detailed as you can from arranging the bedroom furniture to placing the family pictures on the bureau. This will help make the new place feel like home.
9. Start Small
Take a day to spend with your parents to talk about the move and what to expect. Give them small tasks to do, such as going through a desk drawer or a box from the attic. Ask them to spend only 15 to 20 minutes a day on one task. Let them decide what they'd like to do and what they might find hard to do. Taking small steps will help your parents get used to the idea of moving.
10. Pick a Room That Has Less Sentimental Attachment
Have your parents start sorting through the bathroom or kitchen drawers; a place in the house that doesn't hold the same emotional attachment as the bedroom or living room or a photo box kept in the attic.
11. Hire Outside Help
Sometimes it's easier for your parents to work with an outside party than with their children, especially when it comes to sorting and packing. Senior Move Managers provide unique services and support for older adults and their families, and minimize the chaos and stress associated with these transitions.
If you would like to talk about how Lighter Moves may provide assistance, please contact us at lightermoves.com or call us at 802-595-5550.