It’s time. Mom and Dad need to be somewhere that can care of them.
The good news: they agree it’s time. The not-so-good news: you are looking at a family home filled with thirty (or more!) years of stuff, wondering what you’re going to do with it all.
Be warned: it’s not a simple process, neither physically nor emotionally.
But you can make it easier. Here are 5 tips for senior downsizing go more smoothly.
- Start now. If the move is brought on by a sudden event, such as a stroke, you can’t start early. But if you see a move coming, whether it’s a few months from now or a few years from now, you can get started. Slow and steady is easier on everyone.
- Start with the easy stuff. Don’t start this process — which is bound to be emotional — with an argument about Dad’s collection of fishing rods or Mom’s assemblage of antique perfume bottles. Start with things that are less emotional.
If your parents are moving to facility that provides them with all their meals, the kitchen might be an easier starting point. They will likely agree to taking only a handful of cutlery, a couple of plates and bowls, and their favorite cups and mugs.
- Have a floor plan of the new space. Their new home will almost certainly be smaller than their current one. Knowing exactly what size the rooms are will make it easier to select the furniture that will actually fit.
- Don’t go it alone. If friends and family aren’t able to help, you can find companies that specialize in helping seniors downsize. In addition to having screened and bonded employees, a moving company that specializes in senior moves is more likely to have employees who know how to help an older couple downsize a lifetime of memories. They’re also not as sentimental as friends and family, and their calmer heads will come in handy.
You will need a high level of trust in people who will advise you what to do with many of your parents’ possessions, especially since some of which may be quite valuable. So be sure to ask friends for references, read reviews, and consider companies associated with well-established organizations, like National Association of Senior Move Managers and Caring Transitions.
A facility like Atlantic Coast Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Lakewood, NJ, has helped countless families move out of their own home and settle comfortably into their new one.
Call us at 732-364-7100, or by clicking here, and let us help you.
- Pack the memory, not the object. Eventually, the time will come to talk about the fishing rods and the perfume bottles. Start by acknowledging Mom and Dad’s feelings. Letting go of these items might actually involve a form of bereavement for them.
Sometimes, seniors find that they can hold on to the memory of certain prized possessions, while letting go of the objects themselves. Perhaps Mom could keep her five favorite perfume bottles. Taking pictures of the rest of them (and possibly printing and framing a collage of all the pictures), could go a long way to mitigating her feelings of loss.
Moving is never easy, especially when downsizing. But handled compassionately — and as slowly as possible — it can be done in a way that minimizes stress and even offers time for happy reminiscing.