Checklist for Moving Elderly Parents

Organization is key to any move. Assisting with a move long distance or helping sort someone else’s possessions requires extra measures of patience. Overnight moves especially of entire homes aren’t feasible. Most moves take 3-6 months. This is our checklist for moving elderly parents.

Following this checklist for moving elderly parents cares for both the physical and emotional needs of a move.

Sometimes the adult children who orchestrate the moves for aging parents can become so focused on the logistics (when is the moving truck coming, who will pack the boxes, how will we get the house cleaned and sold, etc.) that the emotional needs are swept to the side. Having a solid timeline and strategy in place for handling the physical elements of a move allows you to help care for the emotional needs too.

Checklist for moving elderly parents

  1. Downsize physical possessions before moving
    • Pack the two suitcases you’ll take with you first.
    • Downsize by room.
    • Post furniture and items that need sold several months prior to the move to allow time for buyers.
    • Label boxes as you pack with their final destination.
  2. Schedule moving truck at least 3 months in advance of move.
  3. Transfer doctors/medical care.
  4. Don’t neglect to care for the emotional needs that arise with grief and saying goodbye during moves.

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Care for the emotional needs

Moving is emotional at any stage of life. As humans we crave stability and a desire to feel at home. When we’re living with moving boxes it’s hard to feel settled.

When moving aging loved ones it’s important to recognize how it may feel overwhelming, confusing or against their desires to move. Additionally, if they are being asked to move from the home they’ve lived in for many years they’re being asked to leave a place that holds many memories.

It’s okay to encourage your loved one to cry and to feel the grief of moving. This is normal to feel grief and not something they should feel shame for tears. Keeping the occasional sentimental item is likely ok as well, within reason.

Encourage your aging parent to talk with friends or a counselor about the pending move if you don’t have enough time to handle the emotional conversations yourself.

Downsizing physical possessions before moving

Deciding what to keep, give away and throw away can be physically and emotionally exhausting. When preparing to move elderly parents, it may not be feasible for them to Marie Kondo everything. Telling anyone, child or adult, that they must downsize can feel overwhelming. With a move you have an opportunity to downsize as items are being packed and a second opportunity when they are unpacked in the new home.

Where do I even start? They ask. Strategies and approaches can vary based on who is doing the work. Here’s some ideas to break the task down into manageable pieces:

Pack the two suitcases you’ll take with you first.

If you know a date when the move will happen, packing the suitcases with what you know will be needed the first day/ couple of weeks. This way the suitcases can be set aside and they know they won’t accidentally box up something they’ll need immediately.

Downsize by room. Utilize a room-by-room checklist for moving elderly parents.

1. Throw away anything they know is trash.

If it’s hard to even get started, set easily achievable, measurable goals. Throw away two trash bags today.

2. Sort and pack items from closets, storage units, bookcases, etc.

Set up four boxes, one for packing what you’ll keep, one for what you’ll give away to specific people, one for what you’ll donate, and one for what needs thrown away.

3. Furniture- sell, give away, throw away or move.

Remember if you’re planning to sell any furniture this can sometimes take several weeks to sell to the right buyer so don’t wait until the moving truck is there to decide you want to sell. If furniture will be given away, communicate with the recipient when they need to pick it up.

4. Decide where packed boxes will be stored before the move.

Having stacks of boxes in the corner of the room triggers emotional responses of feeling unsettled. In an already stressful and emotional time of packing and moving this can sometimes feel overwhelming. If you’re packing yourself, consider where you can store the boxes so they are out of sight as much as possible. This will be helpful too if you are preparing to sell a home prior to moving.

5. Label boxes with their final destination/room and a contents.

Labeling boxes as you pack will make it much easier when you unpack. Include both the final destination/room and even a brief description of the contents so you can prioritize unpacking. Consider using label stickers like these. They include some that are removable and can be used on furniture. Moving companies suggest not sending important legal documents or irreplaceable items on moving trucks. Label on the front side of the box so you can see the contents when they’re stacked.

6. Consider just having packing materials delivered directly to the home if you’re not doing a full-service move.

Transferring doctors when moving elderly parents

Moving physically is only part of the equation. It’s important to start researching new medical providers if your loved one is moving out of the area. Some practices aren’t accepting new patients or have long waitlists.

Be sure to find out if insurance (especially if moving out of state or to a new town) will have to change as well. Some changes are time based and happen at either the beginning or end of the month.

Especially when it comes to medical care, you want to make sure your loved one has access to medical care. Check out our post on 5 tips based on our experience transferring to new doctors for my mother-in-law.

Moving week – a final checklist for moving elderly parents

  1. Decide who will be responsible for meeting the moving truck. Will your aging loved one be at the old home the day a moving truck arrives?
  2. Are all of the items packed and ready to go?
  3. Label furniture and boxes for which rooms they’ll go in the new home.
  4. If your loved one will be moving prior to the items, be sure they give the necessary keys to whomever will need them (house, storage, mail, car keys, etc.).

Organization is key to a smooth move.

Being organized in the move will help reduce stress. In Proverbs there are many examples of how a king plans before he starts. Create a written plan and use this as your checklist throughout the move.
There are many timelines available online as suggestions for when to accomplish each task so nothing about the move is forgotten.

Share these tips with others you know who are considering moves.

Checklist for moving aging parents includes both caring for the logistical and physical needs as well as emotional needs related to moving. Learn more at

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