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Moving an Aging Parent

by Matt Myers

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Moving an aging parent is not something anyone wants to ever have to think about, let alone have to do. In most cases, you will have to take on many items of furniture that you and other family members either have to find a home for or bring into your own homes. Sometimes these items can have tremendous value, which can add even more pressure to this situation. As difficult as this process can be emotionally, we have put together a list of items that might alleviate some of the physical and mental stress of moving.

At HomeAdvisor, we assume that you know what is best for your aging parent as far as housing, health care and the like. This list is only to expedite the moving process, and not help find elder care facilities.

This list is divided into two different types of moves for aging parents. One is for moving parents within the same area. The other is for moving parents into an entirely different area, thus making a substantial move.

Most Important Items

Moving Antiques: Hire professional movers for antiques. These items have been in your family for years. The older they are, the more they are worth, and the more difficult it is to take care of them during a move. Let the professionals handle this so that they can be insured, protected, and safe.
Storage: You might have to store much of your parent's furniture and belongings. This is a place where you don't want to choose just any storage facility. Make sure you are storing your parents' belongings in a place that specifically handles antiques or anything that you do not want to get damaged from being stored.
Ideas on Storage: It might be a better use of your time and space to move some of your own things into storage to make room for your parents' things. Your things are likely to be newer and have less nostalgic value, plus they will require less care and maintenance. Be careful though, having too many things that are fragile or delicate in your house might change the mood of your home, especially if you have young children.

Items for Any Move
Appraise Valuables: Standard insurance plans cover general possessions up to a certain dollar amount. In the case of most parents, it might have been years since the last appraisal. If your parent(s) have more expensive items like antiques and jewelry that you need to insure, now is the perfect time to have your parents' possessions appraised before you take them on the road.
Garage Sale: A garage sale is a smart way to reduce some of your possessions and maybe even make a little gas money for the move.
Thrift Store: Make a trip to a thrift store to give away what you couldn't sell. Remember to get receipts and write-off forms for the value of what was donated.
Locating Boxes: Bars and liquor stores always have the best boxes. Their boxes are designed to be able to hold large amounts of weight. However, if you have a friend or neighbor who has moved recently, ask them if you can take some boxes off their hands.
Local Accounts: Settle any accounts that your parent(s) have with local merchants.
Address Change: File a change of address form for who you are moving with the post office.
Update Address: Change address with any magazines, newspapers, memberships, etc. so that your parent can receive his or her mail in their new place.
Medical Records: Grab medical records if your parent(s) do not have already have them on file. Make copies while you have them and a file where they can be stored.
Transfer Prescriptions
Safety Deposit Box: Don't forget to withdraw any safety deposit boxes.
Find Home for Plants: Most plants cannot handle the extreme environments they are placed in during a move. If you really care about your plants, find them a good home.
Heavy Boxes: Sit all boxes of books and heavy stuff on the floor so that lighter boxes can go on top.
Stacking Breakables: Find a place on the floor for breakables so that they can't fall off of anything.
Notify Friends: Send neighbors and friends cards or an email telling them of your parent's' new address.
Utilities: Set up a time to shut off your utilities, phone, cable, etc.

Moving Your Parent a Short Distance
Moving Company/Rental Truck: Hire a moving company or reserve a rental truck first thing. These services can easily get booked up and leave you without much choice. The sooner the better.
Bank Accounts: If your parent will carry a functioning bank account, decide whether or not you need to close the current one and open a new one that is either close to where you are or where your parent is.
Double-Check: If you are renting a truck, call again to make sure that there will indeed be a truck reserved, just to be on the safe side.
Renting the Truck: There will be a walkaround by you and one of the rental company employees. You will be held accountable for any damage that is not written on this sheet. So be sure to note every little flaw.
Loading a Rental Truck: Pack the heavy stuff toward the front of the truck, i.e. the part of the truck closest to the cab. Washers and Dryers should go on first, followed by pianos, furniture, and anything big and heavy.
Truck Ramps: Often rental trucks have a pullout ramp for loading and unloading. This ramp is narrow and typically made of aluminum. Be careful that you don't fall off either side when carrying heavy objects. Also, these ramps can become very slick if they even get a little bit wet. Carpet scraps and rags are great to minimize slipping.
Gas up the Truck: Be sure to take the rental truck back with a full tank of gas, as they will charge you an extraordinary amount per gallon if they have to fill it.

Moving Your Parent a Long Distance
Moving Company/Rental Truck: Hire a moving company or reserve a rental truck first thing. These services can easily get booked up and leave you without much choice. The sooner the better.
Prepare Your Car for the Road: If you are using a professional mover, have your own vehicle serviced (oil change, rotate tires, etc.). Do this as early as you can in case the mechanics find something that will require you to come back for a second visit.
Double Check on Your Rentals: If you are renting a truck, call again to make sure that your truck will indeed be ready just to be on the safe side.
Road Trip Items: Make a list of things that you want to have in the car with you. Buy some of your own windshield wiper fluid, anti-freeze or coolant, and oil. This truck will be pulling a heavy load and it might need more than just gas to get there.
Rental Truck Emergency Kit: Buy some windshield wiper fluid, anti-freeze or coolant, and motor oil. This truck will be pulling a heavy load and it might need more than just gas to get there.
Buy a Lock: Buy a lock so that you can secure the back door to your truck.
Road Construction: Call/search the web to find out if there will be construction on the roads you will be traveling.
Always Double-Check: Double-check reservations at campgrounds, hotels, motels, Aunt Jane's just to be on the safe side.
Road Supplies: Make a list of things that you want to have in the car with you, either to eat, drink, or occupy your mind.
Road Trip Essentials: Many moving trucks are only equipped with the barest essentials, often without a tape deck or CD player, sometimes even without FM radio. Check your particular truck and decide if you can travel that far without some good tunes or talk radio. Buying a small radio might be a good investment.
Tip for Efficient Travel: If you are moving a parent yourself, pack foods that have high-water content like grapes, oranges, apples, etc. These foods will keep you hydrated so that you don't have to drink so many liquids. This will reduce the number of times you will have to stop for restroom breaks and will keep you on the road.
Renting the Truck: There will be a walkaround by you and one of the rental company employees. You will be held accountable for any damage that is not written on this sheet. So be sure to note every little flaw.
Loading a Rental Truck: Pack the heavy stuff toward the front of the truck, i.e. the part of the truck closest to the cab. Washers and Dryers should go on first, followed by pianos, furniture, and anything big and heavy.
Consider Unloading: If you can, pack such that what you want to come off first is put on last. Mainly items that will be going upstairs or toward the back of the house should be loaded last, so they can come off first.
Truck Ramps: Often rental trucks have a pullout ramp for loading and unloading. This ramp is narrow and typically made of aluminum. Be careful that you don't fall off either side when carrying heavy objects. Also, these ramps can become very slick if they even get a little bit wet. Carpet scraps and rags are great to minimize slipping.
Crowns in the Road: All roads are crowned in the middle so that water won't stand. This crown will feel severe in a big truck. Try to stack the driver's side of the truck with more of the heavy stuff so that the truck rides even.
Towing a Vehicle: If you are towing a vehicle behind your rental truck, make sure the trailer has a working tow package. This means that the brake lights, tail lights, blinkers, and trailer brakes are all in working order.
Parking Your Rental Truck: If you are traveling on multiple nights, make sure to park your truck smartly. Find a wall or a tree or some otherwise immovable place where you can back the truck right up close. This way, if someone happens to break into your truck, they won't be able to get many items out.
Lodging reservations: If you will be stopping in an area with many lodging choices, it is best to grab a room when you arrive to get the best price. But if you don't want to drive around looking for places, then reserve a room in advance. If you are camping in a state park, it is best to reserve a space before you leave.
Gas up the Truck: Be sure to take the rental truck back with a full tank of gas, as they will charge you an extraordinary amount per gallon if they have to fill it.
One Extra Day: It is a smart idea to compare the pricing difference if you kept the truck one extra day. People often underestimate how draining the whole moving process can be, and if you are hurrying all day so that you can return the truck by five, you will most likely make extra work on yourself by not moving the right things to the right room. Find out what it would be worth to you to be able to take breaks, work at a nice pace, and take the truck back the next day. It could be such a small amount that it will be worth it to pay for the extra time and have the option to be tired and work smartly.

Matt Myers is a freelance writer for the home maintenance and remodeling industry. Formerly a contractor specializing in deck building and casework, Matt has written over 500 articles for both homeowners and contractors.