The fact that I am writing this article would make most of those in my inner circle chuckle. If ever there were a queen of emotional attachment…well then that would be me. Hanging on to those childhood mementos including everything from baby pajamas to those 5000 crayon drawings. Yeah that’s me, and no it’s not pretty. It can actually be a frustrating mess. So for those of you that are charged with the task of helping Mom or Dad downsize to assisted living…I will give you the same golden piece of advice that my Mom gave me. Cut the clutter, because less is more!
When it comes to making the move to assisted living the first question you need to ask yourself is will it FIT? A recent move-in to one of our properties involved the resident sitting down with her 27-year-old granddaughter and them actually sketching out her room setup on graphing paper prior to the move. OCD?? Not at all! Actually this is a very practical approach. When you and your loved ones map out the new space, it helps you both decide what items will fit and what won’t make the cut. Great Oaks Management communities offer room floor-plans on our webpages that make this process so much easier to envision. Also don’t be afraid to ask for measurements! If Mom’s custom curtains won’t fit…then she might want to go a different route like donating them or giving them to family.
Another way to help your loved one deal with STUFF is by letting them “gift” their items to family members. One of my most treasured things that I have is the guitar from my late father. When I open the case…it even still smells like my Daddy. Weird?? Well maybe to some. But for those of us that are sentimental, those family things are priceless. Maybe Mom has just been waiting for someone to ask for her favorite cookbook. Maybe Dad would love to know that his tool collection will be used by his grandsons. This is a much better solution than making them feel like you are hauling their household to the junkyard! And trust me, if these items don’t seem priceless to you now…they will one day. Have them set aside piles or boxes of things that they want to give to certain family members. This will help in the packing process.
I still remember my Mom describing a day when she was helping my grandmother (her mother-in-law), and she asked Mom to grab tea towels for a shower gift out of her “stash” room. This was more of a hoarders’ closet than a stash room, but I digress. My Mom went to grab the aforementioned tea towels that literally fell apart in her hands. See grandma had saved stuff way past its prime and it had dry rotted. If items don’t function, then it’s easier to help parents realize they gotta go. (This same scenario was described to me as we cleaned out my toy room.) But when clocks or old electronics are not functioning and beyond repair then these belong in the junk pile. You might think…well that’s obvious. But I can’t tell you how many families I have helped part ways with stuff that just wouldn’t work. See I can give good advice, I’m not the best at taking it. There is also the stuff we have that won’t work because it is too big or too cumbersome to work in apartment style living for seniors. Or sometimes you have a set of books that no one in the family needs that might be perfect for donating. The major donation outlets in our facility areas are church organizations, the Salvation Army and Goodwill.
If you have perfectly good items that you just don’t need, it may be time to organize a garage sale. A garage sale or an estate sale is a wonderful way to make turn forgotten finds into FUNDS! Remember that if you have items that are particularly valuable it is always wise to have them appraised. We will have an article on our Facebook page this week that offers advice on getting ready for a garage sale!