Tuesday, January 6, 2009

moving your parent: a checklist

If you are putting a family member into LTC or a retirement residence there is lots to do.
If you are on a waiting list for LTC in Ontario, you only have 48 hours to complete the process, so be prepared. Plan ahead.
I read a great, loving and sentimental post about Daddy's Jacket, Mother's Purse, and it really hit home.
I have resolved NOT to leave so much clutter for my adult daughter, who is our executor. At least, that is my resolution!

Two Months Before Moving

• Sort through belongings to reduce the number of things you have to move.
• Have a garage sale or donate items you no longer need to charity.
• Decide whether to move things yourself or hire professionals. Make reservations with a moving company or a truck rental company. (Call three companies for estimates to compare.)
• Gather packing supplies: boxes, packing material, tape, felt markers, and scissors.
• Place legal, medical, financial, and insurance records in a safe and accessible place. I put Dad's in a special container in the car for safety.
• Purchase insurance coverage for valuables to be stored, if necessary. In a retirement home a senior is legally a tenant, in LTC they are governed by the LTC Act and are a resident. Theft is a difficult issue, you are wise to keep valuables with you.

One Month Before Moving
• Start packing items that aren’t regularly used such as off-season clothes and decorations and items in storage areas (garage, attic, and closets). I kept a few things to decorate Dad's room during seasonal events. (Or donate them or pass them to relatives.)
• Make arrangements for pets. Advertise for good homes. Talk it up amongst caregivers, friends. We ended up placing Dad's dog with a Red Cross worker. They are happy as clams.
• Gather medical records (doctors, dentist, optometrist, and veterinarian) and keep them in a safe place.
• Cancel insurance policies that no longer apply (car, house).
• Send items (rugs, drapes, clothing, quilts, bedding) to the cleaners.

Two Weeks Before Moving
• Contact utility companies (gas, electric, water, cable, trash collector, and local phone service providers) and notify them of the move.
• Sign up for services at the new location, determine if your parent will need/use cable, or phone. Due to my dad's dementia he could no longer use a phone.
• Contact the long distance phone company and notify them of the move. If you can, pretend to be your loved one - it is hard to convince them you have Power of Attorney!

One Week Before Moving
• Pick up items from the cleaners or repair shops.
• Pack a survival kit of clothes, medicines, special foods, and so on to carry through the day after arrival in the new location.
• Finish packing all boxes keeping aside the things that you’ll need in the final week.
• Inform the post office of the upcoming move. Make sure you take Power of Attorney forms, as they are reluctant to do this without legal authority.
• Send change-of-address cards with the new address and phone number to:

- Municipal, provincial, and federal taxation authorities and any other government agencies as needed.
- Friends and family
- Banks, insurance companies, credit card companies, and other financial institutions
-Magazines and newspapers
- Doctors, lawyer, accountant, realtor, and other service providers

The Day Before
• Set aside moving materials, such as tape measure, pocket knife, and tape.
• Lay down old sheets in the entry and hallways to protect floor coverings.
• Prepare your parent for the move. This is tricky. If they have dementia there is no point. They will be upset. If you have had this talk with them and asked their wishes well in advance, it is easier. I took in suitcases on the Friday before the Monday Dad moved from a Retirement Home to LTC - care staff had to put them away as he was upset.
• Set aside the clothing that will fit in the new location:
Pack toiletries, a housecoat, slippers, a pair of running shoes, four pair of pajamas, and six changes of clothes, i.e., six undershirts, six shirts, six pair of pants or jogging suits. Clothing needs to be labelled. Two years later I still wear the fleece we embroidered with Dad's lake name on it, and the label they put on it in LTC cannot be removed. We donated his other clothes after he passed away - Lord knows what this means for some poor soul!
• Many of these places offer laundry services and this is all that will you need.
• Also helpful: a sun hat, a winter hat, and a couple of sweaters, and a seasonal coat. There is not a lot of space available in many locations (LTC or a retirement home). Be frugal - or whatever the word is...

Moving day carry with you:
• The telephone number of the moving company- if you have used them.
• Checks to pay for movers, or fees.
• Documentation related to the sale of the home.
• Power of Attorney.
• Your insurance policies and agent’s phone number.
• Your current address book or personal planner.
• Prescription and non-prescription medicines.
• Enough clothing to get by if the movers are late.
• Any important personal records and documents.
• Any items of great personal value to you that are virtually irreplaceable (for example, a photo album).
• Sort out driver’s licenses, library cards, and other documents that may not be required. Put them in a lock box.
• Personal hygiene items (for example: toothpaste, soap, razor).

Arrival Day
• Greet the movers
• Show movers where to place furniture and boxes.
• Arrange for a neighbour to take your parent, if you must supervise movers, or have a sibling divide up the tasks.
• Place any valuable items, such as silver, art, and jewelry, in a secure location, not in the new home. It is unsafe and unsecure in many places and loved ones may not always understand the value of some items. Retirement homes have doors that can be locked, but LTC homes do not. Residents wander in and out of rooms and they are terribly insecure.

After the Move
• Plan to arrive with your parent just before a meal, and leave them to fit in. It is good for them to become used to the routines without you there.
• Save all moving receipts, because some moving expenses may be tax deductible. Check with an accountant. Keep a file with all documentation: receipts, doctor's reports, all correspondence. Save everything for now!

A few days later
• Walk and drive around the neighborhood and community to orient yourself and your family.
• Phone regularly. Try to phone too much, when it is convenient for you, so that they do not feel abandonded. It is difficult leaving familiar places, family and friends.
• If your parent is quite upset, you might have to expect frequent phone calls. You have to judge when enough is enough. Make a plan to call your parents on a regular basis and stick to it. My father was phoning me 8 times a day, at one point. You really have to look after yourself.

See also: the day I put dad into LTC, I wish you the best of it. See my other post on selling your parent's house, and moving day!
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