Relocation Fear: It’s a Real Thing

At some point, most children will have to help an aging parent move into a retirement home. Optimally, this home will be located in the same neighborhood. Sometimes, though, this is not the case. An elderly parent that refuses to move to a home in a different part of town can seem difficult, uncooperative, and unappreciative. None of this is what’s really going on, however.


CC Image courtesy of LendingMemo on Flickr
CC Image courtesy of LendingMemo on Flickr

As it turns out, relocation fear is a real psychological condition. It’s not one that only impacts the elderly either, but it is a fear that should be handled with care. If you’re in the midst of trying to move an aging parent to a new neighborhood, the first step is to understand why this type of move is so difficult.


Understand the Fear


In a recent NY Times article, psychologist Elizabeth Stirling was quoted as saying that “no matter how much you move, you still take yourself with you.” But, translate that fact onto an ageing parent that associates a sense of self with a neighborhood, and you have a true state of panic.


Elderly folks that have lived in a certain part of town for more than ten years form a strong attachment to everything in that area from the bank to the butcher or local grocery store. Even if shops have changed over the course of a lifetime, the streets and houses are still (more or less) familiar.


Uprooting a person from that type of familiarity can be a sticky situation. When it can’t be avoided, though, it’s best to find a really good way to ease that person into the idea of a move. Take a look at the following ways to familiarize an elderly parent with a new location before packing anything.


1. Visit the new neighborhood at the same time on the same day of the week. Example: bring your elderly mother to her new part of town at noon on Sunday for three weeks.


2. During that time, pick one shop to visit each day. The first Sunday you may step into the local café, and the second Sunday you may decide to visit the local library.


3. Introduce your parent to shop owners and employees. More often than not, shop owners are happy to meet new town residents (since they will be potential customers), and seeing a friendly face a few times before a move is a great way to incorporate change.


4. Take the time to visit a retirement home more than once. The first visit to a home may be a supervised one that occurs at a specific scheduled time. After that, visit the new home a few times, and ask if you can sign your parent up for an activity or two. This way, your loved one will be able to meet other residents, see what activities are like, and become familiar with a place.


5. Don’t rush the move. Unless there are pressing reasons to move a parent as soon as possible, don’t rush your loved one into a move. Time is the one thing that scares a lot of elderly folks, so try not to add an undue stress to the situation.


6. Speak with a therapist. It can help to have someone to talk to about this tough situation. Not only might your loved one benefit from the kind words and wisdom that a therapist can provide, but you may find this type of figure helpful as well.


Packing Everything Up


It may be hard for your loved one to pack things without any help (or at all), and you may be lacking the time needed to pack items. This is where moving companies come into play. At Exodus Moving and Storage, we offer full service moving solutions. We can pack items carefully and securely while you take your parent out for the day. Or, we can simply help you move the boxes that you’ve already packed. We are more than familiar with retirement home situations, and we are happy to help you with your move at any time.


Moving an elderly parent to a new neighborhood is not always easy, but this type of situation gets a lot simpler when a skilled moving company backs you. Call us today to get an estimate, arrange a meeting time, and to make this type of move an easy one.