COVID has thrown a wrench in so many families’ plans, and in particular, seniors. Some who were formerly living in Independent, Assisted Living or Memory Care have moved in with adult children in order to be able to continue to see them and/or to avoid exposure to coronavirus. Others have moved across state lines to help adult children with the care of young grandchildren or be helped themselves with the care of a declining spouse. In fact, according to a recent Pew survey, one in twenty Americans moved this past year due to the coronavirus outbreak. Whatever the reason for the move, there are some special considerations for seniors. To make the move less daunting, here is a list of tasks and special considerations for extended family to use.
- Change your address with the United States Post Office.
Remember that both spouses will need to submit a change of address here: https://moversguide.usps.com/mgo/disclaimer
- Apply for a NC Driver’s license and register and title your vehicle.
If you have a valid out-of-state license and want to continue to drive legally, apply for a NC driver's license within 60 days of establishing permanent residence in the state.
You will need to bring proof of identity, residency and social security number when you apply. You must pass the vision exam, written test, and road signs tests. Once you pass, you'll receive a Temporary Driving Certificate; your permanent North Carolina driver's license should arrive by mail within 20 days. You may be exempt from the written and road tests if you surrender your valid out-of-state license.
You will need a NC driver’s license before you can register your vehicle in the state.
- Inform the Internal Revenue Service.
You can print out the form you need here, but it must be mailed in. Check the second page of the print out to see where you are supposed to mail it. If you live in North Carolina, here is the address: Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service Kansas City, MO 64999-0023
- Update your address with Medicare and Social Security.
You can change your address online by using a My Social Security online account. Go to the "My Profile" Tab on My Social Security. This will then give you a new Medicare service area and, in many cases, the need to change your Medicare plan, Prescription Drug and/or Medicare Supplement plan(s). If you are unable to change your address online, you can call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; or contact your local Social Security office.
For unbiased guidance on Medicare plans, the Federal Government sponsors local volunteers through the Senior Insurance Information Program, which you can learn about or contact here.
- Change your bank address.
In general, banks require that you do this in person. Bring a photo ID. It is a good idea to order new checks with your new address at the same time.
- Update your address for all ongoing services, and new utilities. Consider assigning an adult child to manage all bills or set up autodraft. As people age, many become more overwhelmed by keeping up with bills. This may include:
- Supplemental health insurance
- Longterm health insurance
- Car insurance
- Credit cards
- Cell phone
- Internet service
- Subscriptions (newspapers, magazines, etc.)
- Move your prescriptions.
You will be asked to fill out a form at the new pharmacy, which they will use to request your current medications be transferred from your old pharmacy. Make sure you bring your driver’s license, your new Medicare card and any supplemental medication insurance card.
- Move your care to a new physician or geriatrician, if one is available in your area.
You will need to find a practice which is accepting new Medicare patients (or whatever your primary health insurance provider is). Once you settle on one, ask for the process of transferring medical records and go ahead and schedule an appointment. In this area, when calling both the Duke and UNC Geriatric Clinics, there seemed to be a four to six week wait. The wait for a first intake appointment with any specialists you see will likely be much longer.
To ease the process, some families involve Senior Move Managers, who help handle a lot of the moving logistics. Whatever your family decides to do, know it will be exhausting. There is no way around this plain fact. However, hopefully if the move brings families closer together geographically, some of the other stresses due to distance will fall away. It is indeed useful, as one's needs grow, to have family nearby--particularly during a global pandemic.