The prospect of leaving behind treasured family memories can be traumatic for anyone at any age. For seniors, it’s especially challenging to contemplate sorting through decades of possessions, deciding what to save and what to let go of. What many think of as a subdued and painful endeavor can actually be turned into a pleasant undertaking for the whole family.
Determine the area and size of the new home
It’s important to establish exactly where your loved one is headed as it will affect just how much they should (or must) declutter and downsize. Know the measurements of all the different storage areas: closets, kitchen, and any storage lockers if applicable. As you keep things or discard them, try to keep this new visual template in your mind. So whether they want to move to Oakville, Ontario to live with loved ones, or downsize to a condo in Toronto, instead of focusing on leaving their old home behind, your downsizing parent can look forward to the new one.
Start early! If possible, begin the decluttering process at least six months before you plan to move. This might feel like a long time but it will go by quickly and there are several benefits to taking this approach:
1) It gives you plenty of time to sort through your belongings without feeling pressured or hurried.
2) You’ll have the opportunity to change your mind about certain things over time.
3) It allows time for family members who live far away to plan their visits and determine what they want to bring home.
4) It allows the time to do it in 3-4 hour chunks and celebrate the process and progress while looking forward with excitement to the new lifestyle on the horizon.
Involve Your Loved One in the “How”
As adult children, it can be tempting to take over and just start chucking things we think our parents don’t need anymore. While this may speed the process up practically, it can definitely slow things down for your parents emotionally. Involve them, discuss the approach and get their buy-in to keep the downsizing train chugging along. Here is a simple system that will help you and your aging parents get the process started:
Ask these questions:
● Do they need/want it?
● Does it have sentimental value?
● Do they use it often?
Decide where it belongs:
Dealing with a home of memories that just may span four or five decades of accumulation is time-consuming. And, you and your siblings may not have the time to do it all. If the resources are there, hire a professional organizer who is experienced in senior downsizing and can help you create a plan that meets your needs. Not only will they find creative ways to store and display items so they don’t take up as much space, many of them are aware of what items will have value and should be kept as part of the estate.
1.Keep a written list of all the decisions you have made and be sure to follow through on them.
2.Approach downsizing with an open mind because your loved one might not immediately part with certain items without some convincing, especially if they are hoping to pass it down to someone else.
3. When selling items, remember that financial gain is unlikely. Be prepared to part with items at low prices if necessary to expedite the process.
Downsizing is an immense task and there’s no question that downsizing can be tough and time-consuming. Try if you can to build in time to cherish the photos and memories you are certain to come across with your family as you simplify your parents' items for their next lifestyle.
About Seniors Shifting
- If time is of the essence, Kim Brassor and her Seniors Shifting
team can help make this process pleasant and manageable with a customized transition plan that can be personalized to the specific needs of your aging parents and their cherished items that need to be sorted. To learn more about how we can help your family in your unique circumstance contact us today.