There is no easy way to write about ‘moving mom or dad from their home …’ without stirring up emotions. Those simple three-letter words have hidden meaning for all of us.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone. Seventy-five million Baby Boomers are expected to retire by 2030 into a health care system already under strain. Your parents are probably among them.

Full disclosure: I’m a 74-year-old single dad with an older brother, and two late-twenties daughters. I’ve lost friends to dementia. I’ve moved my parents, then disposed of their possessions, and will probably have to move myself someday into assisted living. I’m not an expert; nor do I make a living in the elder care community. I’m just an ‘old dude.’

Warning signs that it’s time to help parents move

“Today is the best day in the rest of your parent’s life.”

Most elders wish to ‘age in place.’ They probably won’t tell you when they need your help. You will have to be alert for signs:

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  • Accidents in the home (leaving stove top burners on)
  • Forgetfulness
  • Falls
  • Memory issues
  • Bills piling up / Problems with banking and finances
  • Poor hygiene, home cleaning and maintenance Scammers

Your parents can’t outlast these. It’s best not to delay until later if you see these happening. You want to involve your parents sooner in the planning of their future, while they are most capable.

Get help moving your elderly parents from their home

There will be ‘baggage’ and boxes to deal with. You can’t do it all by yourself. Nor should you. Bellhop’s movers are pros at moving the boxes (the easy stuff). They can help with the wrapping and packing too. You can learn more about all their services here.

Hire a Senior-Specialized Move Manager

Having a neutral third party involved may be the best solution to deal with the small but tough issues related to down-sizing. Someone may have to remind your elderly parent that a favorite chair won’t fit, or that the new kitchen cabinets can’t hold all the glasses. Do you really want to have those conversations?

Service organizations like the National Association of Senior & Specialty Move Managers have 1,100 member companies that must undergo training and carry liability insurance. They can help with all the details, schedule and disposal of items that won’t fit in their new space. Their services are not cheap.

What you can expect in helping your elderly parents move

With the runup in home values, moving may help homeowners unlock needed funds.  Other than that, this move is probably not going to be a happy moment.

Elders may ‘waffle’ on the need to move – Expect to play an active role in keeping the process moving.

Most want to age in place –  where they have routines, memories, and community. The unknown can be scary.

The nearest child often carries the biggest burden – But this doesn’t mean that others can’t help or shouldn’t.

Your responsibilities in moving your elderly parents

Some are asking: am I responsible for my parents? Do I really need to help them move?! The short answer may be ‘yes,’ however, not necessarily when it comes to moving expenses.

A majority of states have what are called ‘Filial Responsibility Laws.’ The laws obligate family members, to the extent possible, to help care for their parents, though they are rarely enforced. It’s important to learn more as, in some cases, children may be financially liable.

Advice about where to move your elderly parents

Is now really the time to move?

They may not have to move, at least right now. Organizations like PACE exist “to provide and coordinate all the types of care your loved one needs, so you don’t have to place them in a nursing home.” They offer services in 32 states and D.C.  Here’s more info.

Start a search for assisted living early

These residences have limited space, and the best choices may have long waiting lists. An internet search ‘near me’ will show local opportunities. Companies that list these facilities nationwide include and  A Place for Mom.

If moving in with family, expect to remodel

Bathroom grab-handle fixtures, the addition of ramps to replace stairs, dealing with falling hazards like loose carpets are all typical considerations that make homes safe for elders.

If moving long-distance, plan it out

Your parents may be unable to fly, or endure long car rides. It’s better to avoid these speed bumps with an early conversation.

The Better Way to Move

15 Tips to help your elderly parents move from their home

#1. Find their important papers before packing when they may get lost. They may have written down internet passwords. Locate any will, healthcare power of attorney, advanced directives before packing. If they don’t have these basic documents, use the opportunity to start talking about them. Trustworthy, offers a way for families to safeguard and organize these docs, and offers suggestions for how to start conversations with your parents.

#2. Triage gently your parents’ possessions – Every object has a reason for being there. Objects become a gateway to memories of an active life, encounters, friends. I have a broken and glued pottery candlestick, collected while in college, that’s traveled with me everywhere, even when camping, and I would miss it horribly.

A photo of a candlestick on a table | Bellhop

Divide into threes (1) objects making the move (2) “maybe-s” to pack and put into storage (3) give aways / donations.

#3. Ask – to pull out stories you will cherish later – My daughter surprised me by asking about my broken clay candlestick last night. And again this morning when she told me what she had learned online about this famous potter.

#4. Start a conversation early while they are fully competent. What do they want in their lives, and where to live? They may not have to move, at least right now. Organizations like PACE exist “to provide and coordinate all the types of care your loved one needs, so you don’t have to place them in a nursing home.” They offer services in 32 states and D.C.  Here’s more info.

#5. Figure out family roles and involvement – Elder care can fall disproportionately on the children. Often the closest carries the burden. Figure this out. Organizations like the Family Care Alliance have advice and documents that can help families tactfully and peacefully negotiate the details. They offer a directory of service agencies by state that can help.

#6. Reinforce the positive results of the move – Keep them looking (and moving) forward. They may be moving to be closer to family or friends. Or a warmer climate (most elders head somewhere south, if not to be near family).

#7. Ask about insurance, providers, prescriptions – Someone needs to make sure any new doctors in a new location are in-network and covered by their health insurance plan. A geriatric care manager in the destination city may be well worth it.

#8. It’s worth repeating – Expect elders’ emotions to flip-flop – Change is scary. Moving is a cold-shower reminder that they are aging and losing their independence. You must be the one to provide the consistent vision and message.

#9. Be kind to yourself and the others – My mother and sister never settled their differences and it spilled into their mother’s care. The negativity hurt them all , particularly their mother. Find ways to separate, de-escalate, grow. If massages help you, indulge.

#10. Recognize this is a process, not an event – You are involved in a marathon, not a sprint. It takes as much mental stamina as physical endurance.

#11. Learn from the pros how to connect better – Read or listen to inspirational team builders. Winning coaches with a track-record of team building must know something, right? My fave is Duke basketball Coach K’s Leading with the Heart.  My daughter’s is women’s soccer champion Abby Wambach’s WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game.

#12. Get more family more connected Studies suggest that monthly visits with grandkids can extend elders’ lives. Maybe one wants to learn how to crochet, and a grandparent already knows how, or wants to learn also. This can make a great Zoom meeting and a reason for regularly scheduled visits

#13. Research the financial implications of caring for your elderly parents -Long-term, some may bring positive tax-related benefits to offset the costs. It’s worth researching these at the same time you help your parents with their planning. Talk with a knowledgeable estate-planning lawyer.

#14. If you don’t want to help move them, find other ways to help

There may be a lawyer in the family, or a nurse. How you divide the responsibility can be a delicate decision. In some states it’s common for caregivers to be reimbursed by agencies and other family members.

#15. Record videos and voice memos of them –Don’t miss the opportunity to capture laughter and stories you will cherish later. On my parents’ birthdays I replay a voicemail recording made 15 years ago.

Bellhop is here to help

Whew! This is a tough topic to cover. Like we said earlier, we’re here to help. Whether it’s a local move or cross-country, no company can help you more. Know that we care as much about your relations as we do about their stuff.

At Bellhop, there’s nothing we want more than for our customers to have a smooth move. We hope this article helped and saves you some time and research. If you’re ready to get moving, our local and long-distance movers can be there in a jiffy.  

Warren Sly