Long Distance Call: How to Reduce Stress When Aging Parents Must Move

By Margaret McCoskey

Research shows that the older population of our country is living longer and remaining generally in good health, active and alert.

This longevity does not always equate with older adults living in the same home they have inhabited for the past 30-50 years.

They may wish, or need, to move closer to their children and grandchildren.
This can mean pulling up roots and leaving the community and/or state in which they have lived for all those years.

Long distance moves are difficult enough when one is young and full of energy, but when the body and mind begin to decline, this transition can become overwhelming and cause emotional and physical anxieties.

A good starting point for family members is a well-developed plan, which may include the following points:

  • For a successful transition, it is vital that the adult children remember to involve the parent(s) in all conversations involving major decisions that will affect their lives when they arrive at the new location.
  • What type of housing best suits the parent(s) now?
  • Can they live independently or do they require more assistance, such as is provided in Assisted Living and Personal Care communities?
  • What social and cultural opportunities are available that will be of interest to them?
  • Look for areas that are safe and within easy access to grocery stores, banks, libraries and medical facilities, especially if the parent still drives.
  • Locate a primary care physician, and, if possible, forward medical records to that office in advance of the move.
    Remember, it is critical that all medical records be up-to-date.
  • Investigate hiring professionals to assist with organizing yard sales, contacting Goodwill, or finding antique dealers for those quality items that are too big to move but still have resale value.
  • Hire a professional to clean the home being vacated – this frees up family members’ energy so they can focus on the well-being of the parent(s) and not on routine duties the move produces.

    The goal is to limit stress for all family members involved.

    When you include parents from the beginning and do the “homework,” you can reduce stress and anxiety levels.

    Then, more often than not, the parent(s) will be looking forward, not backward, and eager to be nearer family.

    Margaret McCoskey, MSSW
    Community relations manager at Liberty Ridge Senior Living Community
    543-9449 or mmccoskey@libertyridge.com.