How To Discuss Concerns and Feelings About Moving With an Older Adult



Discussing Concerns and Feelings About Moving


Moving can be difficult emotionally, even when it's the best option. For older adults, moving can mean leaving a home full of memories and belongings. Moving can be especially upsetting if it highlights health problems or other limitations.


Moving can also be challenging for the older adult's family or friends. If the older adult is leaving the family home or has few options for where they are going to live, those helping with the move might feel sad or guilty.


Talking about feelings throughout the moving process can help. Keep in mind:

  • Moving can cause worries about finances, health or independence.

  • Moving is a major change that often involves both losses and gains. It's normal for older adults to focus on the losses just after a move.

  • Having more control and more information can make the transition easier. Older adults who visit and choose between housing options and are able decide how to handle belongings and meet with staff beforehand are more likely to feel positive about their move.


While the older adult is exploring moving:

  • Ask about the best and worst parts of the older adult's current home and community.

  • Ask what concerns the older adult has about moving.

  • Talk to friends or family who moved later in life.

  • Ask the older adult what features would make moving to a new home worthwhile.


During the moving process:

  • Share memories about the home the older adult is leaving.

  • Help the older adult go through belongings and ask which to move, give to family or friends, store, sell, donate or trash.

  • Take pictures of favorite places and belongings that won't be moved to the older adult's new home.

  • Use floor plans and pictures to help the older adult prepare for the new home.


When the older adult is in the new home:

  • Ask how the older adult feels.

  • Discuss sadness without dismissing negative emotions or trying to "fix" things.

  • Share pictures of the older adult's old home around holidays and other significant times.

  • Encourage family and friends to visit the older adult.

  • Encourage the older adult to meet people and join activities in the new place.

  • Remind the older adult that it takes time and effort for a new place to feel like home.

  • Talk about the reasons for the move and the benefits of the new home.