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Moving out of your family home

It is not unusual for people who are downsizing, trying a retirement village lifestyle, or moving into a nursing home to have 50 years or more of collected goods and belongings.

Key points:

  • Moving house can be both emotionally and physically stressful for older people

  • Relocation stress can last for up to four months after you move and usually begins with the two weeks before the move 

  • Professional movers can provide services that are more than just moving your possessions from A to B

Older couple moving from their home
Professional relocation businesses can alleviate the stress of relocating yourself. [Source: Shutterstock]

The situation can be even more difficult for people who live on their own or don't have friends or family available to help with the move. And there are so many things to organise when moving house. 

Many people who are moving require packers, sorters, de-clutterers, removalists, unpackers, assistants, confidants, coordinators, cleaners, and gardeners all rolled into one.

The emotional stress that comes with moving house and coordinating the move can be overwhelming. 

Finding professional assistance, like from a professional relocation business, may help alleviate all the emotional and physical work involved in relocating.

Relocation stress syndrome

Moving into a new home can be quite a shock to the system, let alone having to come to terms with downsizing your worldly possessions. 

People have likely lived in their family home for a long time, so leaving a place where the walls hold many memories can be quite difficult.

Relocation stress syndrome, also known as 'transfer trauma', is quite common among older people when they are moving into a new place.

It can affect people during the packing and moving process and a number of months after they are settled in their new home.

People moving into aged care are at a greater risk of experiencing relocation stress for up to four months after the move.

Some effects of relocation stress syndrome in older people include:

  • Anxiety

  • Confusion

  • Hopelessness

  • Loneliness 

  • Cognitive decline

  • Discontent

  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits

  • Dependency

  • Doubt

  • Lacking trust in others

  • Withdrawal

A 2013 study found that aged care staff can be of great assistance to older people and their families when moving into a new home.

This can be through professional resources and the extension of the nursing home welcome. An extended welcome would need to show emphasis on the residents' control, self-worth, privacy, and opportunities to make social connections.

It's important that the person moving is as involved as possible with the moving process so they still feel in control with the decision they have made. 

Additionally, making sure there is a strong family network during the move can stop the person feeling lonely or isolated.

The one thing about relocation stress is that it is short-lived. Another study found that the quality of care can be improved if the stress of moving is eased through prior preparation.

Tips for moving

While moving can be messy and complicated, it doesn't always have to be! If you plan and prepare over a few weeks before you officially move, it can make the whole move so much smoother.

Some tips for moving include:

  • Picking your moving date so you have something to work towards

  • Start packing early, don't leave it to the last minute

  • Are you planning just to ask your friends and family to help or will you be engaging professionals? Get a few quotes from local removalists to see if it is the best option for you

  • Gather supplies for the move, like bubble wrap, boxes, tape, markers, utility knives, and garbage bags. If you are engaging a professional, they will most likely supply boxes ahead of time so you can start packing early, or they may just pack for you on the day

  • Sort items into a take, sell, donate, or throw away pile

  • Dismantle your furniture and larger items closer to the moving date, especially if you use them often, such as bed frames

  • Have bags for screws and small pieces from larger furniture and sticky tape them to the main pieces so they don't get lost during the move

  • Don't overload boxes you are packing, otherwise, they may become too heavy or damage whatever else is inside

  • Use a marker to indicate what boxes the rooms need to go to or if the contents is fragile

  • Clean everything before packing so you don't bring dust along with you

Moving generally isn't a favourite task for people, so it is better to simplify the move as much as you can.

Lending an extra hand

If you are moving into a new home, retirement village, or aged care facility, it is likely that undertaking the move yourself will be quite physically demanding.

Movers or relocation businesses can provide so much more than just moving your items from A to B. They can also take the stress and worry out of a big move.

A professional relocation business can provide a range of helpful services to assist with moving into your new home. 

They can help with:

  • De-cluttering and sorting through household contents and personal possessions

  • Sorting the saleable items, identifying valuables, determining items to be discarded, and compiling all documents

  • Compiling an inventory of the contents and arranging valuations

  • Relocating into alternative housing

  • Clearing the home or unit prior to sale or tenancy termination

  • Gathering bequeathed items, photographs, and treasured memories

  • Delivering valuables, financial, legal, and personal papers to the appropriate person

  • Delivering unsaleable goods to various charities

  • Removing all rubbish items from the entire property 

  • Coordinating real estate agents, auction house, cleaners, gardeners, repairs, and all other services

  • Relocation planning, involving a plan of your new home and how your furniture will fit into the space

  • Unpacking your belongings in your new home and put furniture in position

  • Installation of electronic devices like a TV or computer, and hang pictures

Relocation specialists can make the move easier and may reduce the likelihood of relocation stress as these services include a lot of preparation and thought.

To find a relocation specialist or movers, utilise the Products & Services directory on the AgedCareGuide.com.au.

Speak with your case manager, social worker, or placement consultant if you need extra assistance. Or contact a business that specialises in practical assistance with all aspects of relocating.

How often have you relocated, and what reasons did you decide to move? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Downsizing and moving into a retirement village
Tips for moving into a nursing home
Daily Living in a nursing home

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