For adult children and their parents, moving out of their beloved family home and into a senior living community is a big adjustment. Although the change is typically a very positive one that improves quality of life and overall well-being, the act of moving is a physical, mental, and emotional process that signals the transition into a new chapter of life.
To help make the move a positive one, here are five ways to help seniors downsize smoothly and effectively before they arrive at their new home.
Go through the home room by room
Packing up room by room, working your way up to the bigger rooms like the kitchen and dining room, will help you stay organized and on task. Keep in mind that, since you’re downsizing, you might have to toss or donate some of the items and furniture in some of the rooms. For instance, if your loved one is downsizing from a two-bedroom home to a one-bedroom, you’ll want to figure out what to do with the furniture in that extra room since they can’t take it with them.
Create ‘keep,’ ‘toss,’ and ‘donate’ piles
Items should be sorted into one of three piles: keep, throw away, and donate. In-between “maybe” piles can lead to endless debate about which items should stay and which ones should go, leading to time lost, time that could be spent finishing the move. You will have many years of stuff to sort through, so it helps to start in the smaller rooms, like a laundry room or linen closet, where you will not feel as emotionally attached.
Give away duplicates
Aside from clothes, don’t keep more than your parents will need. This is why it is important to weed out any duplicates of furniture or other items your parents might have. There are often a plethora of duplicates in rooms like the kitchen. Whether your parents have double spatulas, Cuisinart blenders, pots, pans, and other kitchen paraphernalia, regift or donate these duplicates to children and grandchildren who might need them for their apartments or dorms, if they are heading off to college.
Consider giving legacy gifts early
Make sure to leave room for antiques and family heirlooms. Is there a century-old banister or grandfather clock in the house that’s been passed down for generations? Maybe a dining room table an ancestor built themselves? Whatever the item, ask your elderly loved one whether they’re willing to pass these items on to family members before their move. That way, the items will be out of the way during the move, which will keep them safe from harm, and the heirlooms will end up with the right person who can really appreciate it. This is also a good time to find out which items your children want that you might not have considered. Maybe there’s a duplicate or an heirloom you could send their way.
Hire specialists to help with the process
There are companies that specialize in helping older adults downsize their lives before a move, and sometimes, an objective, neutral third party is exactly what your family might need to keep the process rolling along. If you’re not sure where to start, the National Association of Senior and Specialty Move Managers (NASMM) is a great resource for finding move management companies in your local area. Senior placement services like ours can also recommend moving and downsizing service providers who are familiar with the communities we represent.
Give yourself time
Don’t force your parents to downsize too fast; take time to make it a positive experience. Even if you can’t guarantee a positive experience, at least give your parents room to process and grieve. Big changes conjure big feelings. Give everyone in the family ample time to feel them.
This is why it’s so important to start early. With an early start, you’ll have more time to process the changes later. It also doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Taking time to process can also be a springboard for greater bonding between family members. Bonds formed in the crucible of change are bonds that can last a lifetime. Appreciate what you had and celebrate where you’re about to go.
If you need help finding the right senior living community for your loved one, Welcome Home Senior Services & Placement Co. offers free concierge services to help you choose the perfect assisted living, independent living, or memory care facility in Florida. Contact us today to discuss your needs.